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KISS NUMBER 8

A rare blend of tender and revolutionary.

The discovery of long-buried family secrets brings Amanda closer to owning her own.

Amanda is the demure sidekick to the wild and sexy Cat, who knows how to have a good time but doesn’t always know how to be a great friend. Her real best friend, though, is her Catholic dad. They go to Sunday baseball games, share favorite TV shows, and trounce each other in video games. When Amanda discovers that her runaway grandmother was actually an early transgender rights activist who transitioned late in life, it brings unbearable tension into their relationship. It also makes Amanda wake up to parts of herself she’s not yet been able to acknowledge, such as how she really feels when she’s around Cat. These revelations wreak havoc on her relationships. Fortunately, Amanda, who is white, finds a new, multiracial crew from the public school. Their lack of need for labels, for the gender binary, or to overexplain themselves allows Amanda to relax into self-acceptance. It’s a story of family and friendship and love in all its forms, perfect for the graphic novel format and elevated by the combined art and narrative. For example, when Amanda’s father tells his mother’s story, his distorted recollections are laid out in juxtaposition with actual events, resulting in an achingly moving vignette. The characters shine, fully human and permitted to be flawed. Hope prevails.

A rare blend of tender and revolutionary. (Graphic novel. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-709-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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UNORDINARY VOLUME 2

From the unOrdinary series , Vol. 2

Another page-turning volume with intriguing character development.

The stakes skyrocket in this thrilling series continuation.

John, the school zero, finds himself growing closer to the boy who’s his polar opposite in their private school’s social hierarchy—but Arlo’s intentions may not be as pure as John’s. While John genuinely wants to befriend him, Arlo might be more interested in pushing John’s buttons in order to see whether he’s really as powerless as he claims. While John ultimately makes an irreversible decision, Seraphina makes her own momentous choice: She’s done being controlled by her family, and her friendship with John motivates her to follow through and persist until she’s free. Though they have an emotional, much-anticipated reunion, going back to school might not be so easy now that Seraphina is being targeted by a mysterious group who pose a serious threat to her life. The higher-ups in the school hierarchy start to suspect that there’s more to the militia group EMBER, who are targeting superheroes, than the press lets on. The complex characters are neither clearly good nor unambiguously evil, and their problems and the dangers they face escalate in this volume as relationships become more strained and complicated, bringing people to their breaking points. The bright, colorful illustrations bring to life this intense story, which features exciting pursuits and even more thrilling fight scenes. The art strongly expresses characters’ emotions, particularly during battles.

Another page-turning volume with intriguing character development. (extras) (Graphic adventure. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780358521228

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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THE ODYSSEY

Hinds adds another magnificent adaptation to his oeuvre (King Lear, 2009, etc.) with this stunning graphic retelling of Homer’s epic. Following Odysseus’s journey to return home to his beloved wife, Penelope, readers are transported into a world that easily combines the realistic and the fantastic. Gods mingle with the mortals, and not heeding their warnings could lead to quick danger; being mere men, Odysseus and his crew often make hasty errors in judgment and must face challenging consequences. Lush watercolors move with fluid lines throughout this reimagining. The artist’s use of color is especially striking: His battle scenes are ample, bloodily scarlet affairs, and Polyphemus’s cave is a stifling orange; he depicts the underworld as a colorless, mirthless void, domestic spaces in warm tans, the all-encircling sea in a light Mediterranean blue and some of the far-away islands in almost tangibly growing greens. Don’t confuse this hefty, respectful adaptation with some of the other recent ones; this one holds nothing back and is proudly, grittily realistic rather than cheerfully cartoonish. Big, bold, beautiful. (notes) (Graphic classic. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4266-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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