A dramatically dark fantasy that will leave readers eager for the sequel.

DARK ONE

A 17-year-old faces his destiny in a divided and distant land.

Paul seemingly has a tenuous grip on reality. He sees visions of an unreal, fantastic land, and Nikka, a blue-tinted hallucination of a girl who claims to be his sister, insists on keeping him company. Living apart from his mother, with whom he has a strained relationship, Paul tries to keep up a normal life with frequent visits to his therapist. When a sword-wielding warrior disrupts a session, Paul is flung into Mirandus, the world of his visions. With a clear flow between panels, the implication of time passing in a montage of wide, epic scenes of Mirandus; brilliant and emotive color schemes; and a cleanly minimal drawing style provide a strong visual aspect to the story. Inexperienced graphic novel readers will easily be able to follow the flow of dialogue, and the clear depiction of speech and narrative bubbles provide further visual literacy cues. While the discussion of good versus evil is a bit heavy-handed despite attempts to subvert the binary, the overarching theme of destiny as depicted by the Narrative adds an intriguing twist. Paul’s relationships with Nikka and other characters are engaging, but the pacing makes them feel rushed. Paul is biracial (Chinese/White); the humans of Mirandus appear mostly White. (This book is available now as a digital edition, with print release currently scheduled for May 2021.)

A dramatically dark fantasy that will leave readers eager for the sequel. (Graphic fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939424-45-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Vault Comics

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in.

ALWAYS HUMAN

In a not-so-distant future where changing one’s physical features is as easy as purchasing nanobot mods, Sunati falls for Austen, a girl who always looks the same.

Since Austen never changes, Sunati admires what she assumes is her bravery and confidence. As Sunati and Austen chat more, Austen bluntly asks Sunati if she only wants to get to know her more because of her medical condition, which prevents her from using mods. As they gradually grow closer, Sunati learns how to interact more respectfully with those who have overactive immune systems as well as to share her feelings more honestly. Austen, in turn, learns to trust Sunati. This beautifully illustrated slice-of-life tale that shows two young women of color getting to know each other and creating a relationship is so warm and charming that readers will hardly notice how much they are learning about how to better interact with folx who are different from themselves and the importance of not making assumptions. The story also successfully weaves in agender, genderfluid, and asexual characters as well as the subjects of parenting and colorism into the natural arc of Sunati and Austen’s developing story. The soft, romantic artwork evokes hazy watercolors. The speech bubbles are predominantly pink and blue, and the varied layout will maintain readers’ interest.

A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in. (Graphic romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1110-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery.

DISPLACEMENT

Time travel brings a girl closer to someone she’s never known.

Sixteen-year-old Kiku, who is Japanese and white, only knows bits and pieces of her family history. While on a trip with her mother to San Francisco from their Seattle home, they search for her grandmother’s childhood home. While waiting for her mother, who goes inside to explore the mall now standing there, a mysterious fog envelops Kiku and displaces her to a theater in the past where a girl is playing the violin. The gifted musician is Ernestina Teranishi, who Kiku later confirms is her late grandmother. To Kiku’s dismay, the fog continues to transport her, eventually dropping her down next door to Ernestina’s family in a World War II Japanese American internment camp. The clean illustrations in soothing browns and blues convey the characters’ intense emotions. Hughes takes inspiration from her own family’s story, deftly balancing complicated national history with explorations of cultural dislocation and biracial identity. As Kiku processes her experiences, Hughes draws parallels to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and the incarceration of migrant children. The emotional connection between Kiku and her grandmother is underdeveloped; despite their being neighbors, Ernestina appears briefly and feels elusive to both Kiku and readers up to the very end. Despite some loose ends, readers will gain insights to the Japanese American incarceration and feel called to activism.

A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery. (photographs, author’s note, glossary, further reading) (Graphic historical fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19353-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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