[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
First things first, I've never read anything by Brandon Sanderson (not yet, at least), so I have no idea if this compares to his novels.
As a comics, it was OK, but I wasn't awed. Possibly because the PDF version I got was kind of blurry, more certainly because the style was a bit too rough to my liking and because of some things that didn't make a lot of sense (or were missing) in hindsight when it came to world-building. On one hand, some panels contain a lot of text and explanations, which doesn't always work too well in a graphic novel; on the other, in spite of those walls of text, little was actually *explained* when it came to all the questions raised.
- All the Sandmasters we see are men. I don't recall any women. Why? Kenton's mother is mentioned as having come from Darkside, and there's a point where he wonders about whether he has any brothers “or sisters” left, but where are these sisters? I don't recall any women anywhere, either among the Sand Masters themselves or back at their enclave, and this just seems... weird. It's never explained, there isn't any line, not even one, about women living somewhere else, or not developing powers over sand and thus not studying with the men, etc.
- Re: Darkside and Dayside, the whole dichotomy doesn't make a lot of sense. The people living under the blazing sun all year long are light-skinned, and the ones living on the presumably “dark side” (no sunlight there, ever? Or are they living in caves?) are dark-skinned. So, sure, I like it when we don't go with the usual clichés, yet biologically-speaking, and in a science fiction story, it's not really believable. I could buy, for instance, “drows have dark skin and white hair” in the Forgotten Realms 'verse Because It's Magic or their dark goddess making them like that or anything; here, I'd need an actual scientific explanation to be satisfied.
All this to say that, as is often the case when such a problem arises in a world where a scientific basis is expected, things that don't make sense tend to keep me unfocused on the actual story: as soon as anything new pops up, I always find myself wondering why it is like that, and how it's supposed to be justified.
The Darksiders have a sort of “19th century British empire” flavour, with their way of seeing the Daysiders as uncouth and not very civilised, and this is a bit problematic (that theme always is): had they been light-skinned people, it would've been too close to events that happened in history, but turning the tables here didn't work too well for me. What I mean by this is that it felt like the author wanted such a civilisation in his story but didn't want them to be “the civilised white people vs. the dark-skinned savages”, yet at the same time making them dark-skinned clashes with what you'd expect from people living on that “dark side of the planet” all the time. This was weird, and, I don't know, I guess another option would've been more believable?
(This said, I liked them graphically-speaking. The Duchess was stylish and quite amiable, and the items they carry hint at mechanical inventions I wouldn't mind seeing more.)
Mostly this story was an easy read, with some good fight-and-magic scenes. However, I'm likely to forget about it quickly, to be honest. 2.5 stars.