A novel with graphic elements chronicles a girl’s mental and emotional journeys as she works through a childhood trauma while in a coma.
Fifteen-year old Zara is in a coma as a result of the motorcycle accident that took the life of her brother, Jem. The first-person narration shifts between comatose Zara, as she hears and mentally responds to the people in her hospital room, and her adventures in the world of her brother’s favorite comic book, Hoodman. Strangely, Zara does not appear to know that she is in a coma, despite her immobility and blindness and the fact that no one responds to her. Much of the action within the comic-book world feels similarly disconnected as, Harold-like, Zara draws herself in and out of various situations, searching for Jem and evading the comic’s villain, Morven. Morven’s depiction, distressingly, borrows from stereotypical tropes of the Other, with dark skin and a hooked nose, a stark contrast to the blonde, fair-skinned protagonist. As Zara’s back story unfolds, readers learn that in order to come out of her coma, she must confront the demons from her childhood—a fictively tidy solution that feels both illogical and contrived, given the coma’s cause.
In the end, this story attempts to tackle serious issues but fails to grasp the gravity of its subject matter. Disappointing. (Graphic hybrid fiction. 14 & up)