I was both eager and reluctant to read this. Eager because girl genius steampunk adventure? With great reviews? Awesome! Reluctant because, um, well you see the same cover I'm seeing, right? But hey, sometimes the cover art on graphic novels isn't the same as-- Oh. No. It is the same. Cartoony and exaggerated, with the added distraction of lots of details that were interesting but left me with the choice of either ignoring half of them or reading much slower than the story calls for. Most of all, I really, really hated the giant breasts and spine-breaking poses of the female characters. I know many comics are drawn this way, but that doesn't mean you *have* to do it, and it looks even more ridiculous paired with the rubbery cartoon faces. Isn't Agatha supposed to be a teen? Why does she have the physique of a forty-yer-old barmaid with a cut-rate boob job? And what's up with all the gratuitous Agatha-in-her-undies panels? Can't the kid buy a nightie? Seriously, after the first sleep-walking incident I would sleep in my clothes! The art did have a manic energy that matched the tone of the story, that's about all I'll give it.
The story itself was...fun. Plotwise I don't think it 100% made sense, but that's okay, because if that's one of your criteria you probably aren't reading this genre in the first place. Ditto the world-building wasn't totally coherent, but it had some really awesome, imaginative, original elements. Over-the-top, sure, but that's what you want in a story like this. I was cool with the mind-control-insect-spewing-dragons-from-Mars-attacking-through-an-interdimensional-portal. The actual political situation on Earth(?) was a bit less convincing, but okay. I wasn't sold on the central idea of the "spark" where some kind of magical genius ability just manifests and a person can suddenly build crazy machines without, y'know, studying engineering. And then they become insane and dangerous. There was some good dialogue and clever one-liners. The characters were okay but I didn't feel much attachment to them. They needed stronger emotional reactions, especially in scenes like Agatha seeing her parents violently killed right in front of her. I don't care that she just found out they aren't her biological parents; she's been raised by them her entire life and as far as we know they have a close and loving relationship. She needs more reaction than slight dismay.
My feeling was that I would have liked this better as a standard novel, where the authors would have been forced to spend more time developing the personalities and politics rather than drawing funny robots.