By Dustin Cabeal
The Hockey Saint is an interesting read in that it has several problems with the plot, but the characters are strong enough that you’ll likely overlook every problem and enjoy the book from beginning to end. What’s strange about that, is that this happens to me a lot. I can enjoy something and still pick it apart and write a review for it, while still enjoying it.
The thing is, there’s only one time that I looked at the story and thought, well that’s a little far fetched. The rest of it is character moments pure and simple, and for a book about hockey, there’s almost zero hockey in the book.
The story follows Tom, he’s recently been orphaned and now living with his grandma as he attends university. He’s on the hockey team, but the fourth line. I’m not going to explain hockey to you nor is the book, but thankfully details like that are given smoothly in conversation and not something that ends up being important to the story.
A friend of Tom’s finds out that the best player in hockey and star player of their local team lives in the burbs near by them. For some reason, Tom goes to visit Jake, the star hockey player’s house. I say “for some reason,” but I know the reason, and that’s another interesting aspect of the storytelling. You’d think that this scene doesn’t make any sense, and that’s it’s a big “Deus ex machina” just getting the plot going, but it does have meaning and turn into something more than that.
Jake invites Tom into his life, and it’s not what Tom was expecting. The first time Tom completely bails on his life and practice to hang out with Jake, but he ends up helping at a food bank, a hospital and having a private dinner at an Italian restaurant. From there Tom becomes more and more involved in Jake’s world, learning things about him that are never said in the press. But as Tom says, it’s a carefully orchestrated house of cards that could come crashing down at any moment.
The artwork is a little weak at times. Based on the info presented it seemed as if Tom and Jake were pretty close in age, but they never looked it. There were also numerous scenes in which Tom’s clothes look massive on him. Otherwise, there was a significant bit of detail to the artwork and consistency to the characters. The coloring is vibrant and matched the tone of the story. It's strange to say this, but the lighting effects were almost too much at times. It made the art look sharp and animated, but particularly with the hair, it seemed like overkill.
The ending is the only part that seemed far-fetched regarding what we see in the story. It’s not far-fetched, but because it has a twist we’re suddenly not privy to some character information that we’ve previously been exposed to. That’s my only gripe with the story, and even then it works quite well for the rest of the ending.
The Hockey Saint was not what I was expecting it to be about. It’s about role models, idol worship, friendship, and family, with just a sprinkle of actual hockey. It’s human drama, and it’s quite well done.
The Hockey Saint
Writer: Howard Shapiro
Artist: Marica Inoue