Bingo 20: Star
I think I mostly like the comics better; the novels for Fence, including Fence: Disarmed, get too wrapped up in the personal drama. At least Fence: Disarmed fits the star square; part of the premise of the whole series is that Nicholas, the new(est) kid at King’s Row boarding school, wants to become a star fencer to impress his supposed father Robert Coste who is a major figure in the sport. Part of the problem though is that Robert may have no idea about Nicholas, on account of Nicholas being the product of an affair.
It turns out thought that the star theme also kind of fits everyone in the more drama, less sport, driven version of the story. Aidan and Harvard want to be the stars of each other’s lives, but can’t quite figure that out between themselves; even overly-focused top-talent Seiji wants his former partner and unknown-to-all-but Nicholas Nicholas’ half-brother Jesse to acknowledge his skill. The rotating points of view although not narrative voice between mostly Nicholas, Seiji, Harvard, and Aiden, gets a little old since the overall effect is basically to entrench the general stereotypes embedded in the charatcers.
Basically the whole thing is everyone pining after someone somehow, even if in both Nicholas’ and Seiji’s case, the pining is not romantic (yet). Then again, even the comic was setting these two roommates for a likely rivals-to-something-more trajectory. At least the focus for these two is more sport-related, although both actually get a little more character in this novel; Seiji has to loosen up a little and start to deal with his complicated past with Jesse, and Nicholas gets a little more backstory. One of the few reasons I still kind of want to keep going with this story is I want to see what happens when the wider world figures out Nicholas’ connection to Robert Coste; there are a few hints here that something like that could eventually happen.
The new characters keep things interesting thankfully, like a new sort of rival for Seiji or maybe Nicholas, when the whole team goes to this exclusive French training camp, maybe a lady friend for Eugene, and a couple of others, including a pair of new coaches who get a couple of entertaining moments. I’m not sure why Bobby is back though; don’t get me wrong, he’s a cute character, kind like if Jonathan VanNess were into fencing and about 15, but there is absolutely no reason for him to be present.
I know I shouldn’t expect too much from a bunch of high school boys, but at least in the comics, there was more attention to the sport side, and that tension was more interesting than all the predictable emotional stuff.