As the Holy Empire of Britannia expands, the freedoms and rights of the citizens of the countries that it has conquered begin to shrink. Japan, once a strong and noble land, has since been renamed "Area 11," and the people live in fear of the soldiers that roam the streets as all that they once knew crumbles around them.
Enter Lelouch ("leh-louche"). An exiled child of the Emperor of Britannia, he seems like the least likely candiate to rally a desperate nation to action. With no political connections in his exiled state and few friends, his hope for topplling the kingdom that betrayed him seems unlikely until he meets C.C., a young woman whom he rescues from a military vehicle. In return she grants him a very powerful and dangerous gift, a "geass." With this ability, Lelouch can influence any human to do anything he commands. Weak no more, Lelouch begins to get the ball of revolution rolling with the help of a rebel group, of which one of the members is Kallen, a "sickly" girl whom is tougher than her school persona makes her out to be.
Armed with a new power, Lelouch dons a mask and reinvents himself as Zero, a crusader who fights for the weak with only one goal in mind: to fell the kingdom that shamed him years ago.
Code Geass has been around for a while now and has yet to show signs of falling out of style. The plot is fairly linear, with Lelouch's goal being the main focus of the story. There is a light side to this though, as Bandai has also been publishing spin-off series that take place in alternate universes, not only allowing for the story to take a different path, but also giving some other characters their chance to shine as more than pawns in Lelouch's game.
The plot is also quick-paced, with each action leading into the next smoothly and swiftly. There are no "filler" panels added in to make it feel as though the story is longer, and everything serves either to introduce new characters or to set the scene for Lelouch's next daring move.
I actually find Lelouch to be a bit dry at points, as many people do with characters that only have one goal in their lives. Lucky for the reader though, he is flanked by interesting friends and family from his childhood friend Suzaku, a Japanese citizen fighting in the Britannian army, to his blind sister Nunnally, to the mysterious C.C.
The main series spans eight, manageable books. You can find these at your local bookstore (not Borders anymore...*sniff*), or if you're lucky, your local library. They are also sold online, and as far as I know Bandai is still printing copies. Also, the great thing about this graphic novel is that there is also an anime available. The DVD's can be purchased at F.Y.E. or at an online anime retailer. Nothing like curling up with a good dystopian TV series, right?
(Amazon) Rated 13 and up (for some blood and violence) by publisher Bandai Entertainment and spans eight, 200 page volumes