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THE YEAR OF THE BEASTS by Cecil Castellucci


by Cecil Castellucci & illustrated by Nate Powell

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: May 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59643-686-2
Publisher: Roaring Brook

A tale of contemporary family and a comic that draws on Greek mythology unfold in alternating chapters, interweaving to tell of two sisters blighted by the sting of jealousy.

When the boy who is the object of Tessa’s crush chooses her younger sister, Lulu, a fissure develops between the two. Struggling against her feelings of increasing invisibility, Tessa finds solace in a secret relationship with awkward loner Jasper, but then she really falls for him. Meanwhile, Medusa is re-imagined as a marginalized high school student. She is first shown up by a lovely mermaid and then runs from a shadowy Minotaur in graphic-novel chapters, which unfurl in variously sized panels that sweep across the pages. A tragic turn of events finally makes clear the connection between the two dramas—a dovetail that many will struggle to understand throughout most of this short work. Tessa’s third-person voice may leave readers feeling at a distance from her, but that suits the tone of her character just fine. Teens will feel sympathy for her, particularly in regard to her situation with Jasper, but they’ll likely also be somewhat repelled by the ugliness of her raw envy.

It won’t be for everyone, but sophisticated readers will eat this melancholy, appealingly disjointed novel right up. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 12-16)