Review: What Does Consent Really Mean?



Title: What Does Consent Really Mean?

Author: Pete Wallis and Thalia Wallis

Illustrator: Joseph Wilkins

Publication Date: November 21, 2017

My Rating: 3/5

As soon as I saw the title of this book I immediately knew I wanted to review it. We all know the importance of teaching our children and youth the importance of 1.) understanding what consent means, 2.) Learning “no” means “no” and 3.) knowing the importance of consent. What better way to illustrate this to our children and youth then with a graphic novel of our own youth discussing among themselves?

The whole graphic novel consists of a group of high schoolers discussing consent, what it means, and how you know if you received consent.  The graphic novel begins with a new girl in the local high school who, as rumor has it, transferred schools because she was a sexual assault victim. This sparks conversations among the characters about sexual assault and consent.

The conversations begin with the characters feeling somewhat confused and bewildered about what consent means. However, throughout the story, this group of friends bounce their ideas off each other about consent, which leads the characters to having a good understanding about consent by the end of the story.

I was impressed by the topic of the book, but I was not impressed by the content or the dialogue. I feel as if the writers could have done a better job with the dialogue, because it did not seem like a real conversation teenagers would have; you could tell that this graphic novel was written by adults. There is a lot that needs discussed to our children and youth about consent, so I would argue there is more content that could have been added to this graphic novel to really get the importance of consent to the readers. I do not think this graphic novel did as good of a job as it could have. Though this graphic novel is a great starting force for getting the discussion of consent out there (we have to start somewhere!), there were ways to enhance the content of the graphic novel and making the dialogue more realistic.

I would also like to note that this is not a graphic novel meant for younger children, because of some of the explicit sexual content, the graphic novel is directed towards students who are in high school. But by this point, high school kids should already know what consent is. I think this graphic novel would have had more of an effect if it was written with less explicit content and directed more towards those children in middle school.

All in all, the graphic novel had an excellent topic that is well need in the literature world, but it was not perfect and could have used some improvements.

I would like to express my appreciation towards the authors of this graphic novel for recognizing the important of sharing what consent means. I would also like to thank the publishing company Jessica Kingsley Publishers and Singing Dragon for allowing me to review this book. This publishing company works towards publishing works with themes like autism, education, mental health, spiritual development, and wellbeing. I plan to read more books from this publishing company in the near future!