BLACKWATER

A romantic romp through the supernatural.

Blackwater, Maine, isn’t an ordinary town, but Eli Hirsch and Tony Price are mostly ordinary boys.

Eli, a trans Jewish boy, is isolated by an autoimmune disease, an overbearing mother, and a standoffish attitude. Popular track star Tony, who is cued as Puerto Rican, fights with his distant father and is watching his childhood best friend turn into a bully. But mysterious things are afoot: Tony is bitten by a werewolf, and Eli is being followed by a ghost. Trying to unravel the werewolf curse, Tony, Eli, and Marcia, Tony’s levelheaded goth friend who reads as Black, investigate, coming across intriguing complications and haunting dangers. The horror elements are playful, spooky, but not too frightening, providing a backdrop that adds to the developing relationship between the boys. Despite some animosity, they accept one another exactly as they are, with no pretenses, as their friendship turns into a mutual crush. There’s a kind earnestness to their connection, particularly Tony’s easygoing support toward Eli’s chronic illness. An exciting element lies in the artwork: The creators illustrate alternate chapters, with Arroyo’s vivid and dynamic lines and more cartoonish style serving action scenes well and Graham’s precise approach highlighting more heartfelt, character-driven moments. The styles blend together seamlessly to make a stronger whole. However, the story, while breezy and enjoyable, feels incomplete, missing details that would make characters and their emotional arcs more complex.

A romantic romp through the supernatural. (Graphic horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-30402-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

GIRL ON FIRE

An action-packed tale for those thirsty for more superhero stories.

Grammy Award–winning artist Keys co-authors a YA superhero graphic novel bearing the title of her hit song.

Smart, quiet 14-year-old Loretta “Lolo” Wright struggles to stand up for herself until, on what should be a routine trip to a convenience store, her 16-year-old brother, James, is mistakenly accused of stealing by the police. When the officer slams her brother to the ground, Lolo’s powers manifest for the first time. Meanwhile, Michael Warner, who lives in the same Brooklyn housing projects as the Wrights, is rejected from the football team for being too small. He develops exceptional fighting abilities and shortly afterward gets involved in working for a drug dealer named Skin. When Skin sees a video of Lolo levitating the cop who assaulted James, he wants to recruit her as well, and he tries to extort protection money from Lolo’s dad, who owns a moving business. Lolo must convince Michael to choose a different path; it’s only by working together that they can defeat Skin. Featuring dizzying shifts among multiple perspectives, this full-color graphic novel presents vibrant, expressive characters set against mostly simple, bright backgrounds, with extreme violence depicted in gory detail. The narrative briefly explores class issues and racial stereotypes, but while the setup is intriguing, the momentum fizzles and the pieces never quite come together. Most main characters are Black; Skin reads as White, and secondary characters appear racially diverse.

An action-packed tale for those thirsty for more superhero stories. (Graphic fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-302956-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME

A triumphant queer coming-of-age story that will make your heart ache and soar.

A 17-year-old struggles to navigate friendship and finding herself while navigating a toxic relationship.

Biracial (East Asian and white) high schooler Freddy is in love with white Laura Dean. She can’t help it—Laura oozes cool. But while Freddy’s friends are always supportive of her, they can’t understand why she stays with Laura. Laura cheats on Freddy, gaslights and emotionally manipulates her, and fetishizes her. After Laura breaks up with her for a third time, Freddy writes to an advice columnist and, at the recommendation of her best friend Doodle, (reluctantly) sees a psychic who advises her that in order to break out of the cycle of her “non-monogamous swing-your-partner wormhole,” Freddy needs to do the breaking up herself. As she struggles to fall out of love and figure out how to “break up with someone who’s broken up with me,” Freddy slowly begins to be drawn back into Laura’s orbit, challenging her relationships with her friends as she searches for happiness. Tamaki (Supergirl, 2018, etc.) explores the nuances of both romantic and platonic relationships with raw tenderness and honesty. Valero-O’Connell’s (Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks, 2018, etc.) art is realistic and expressive, bringing the characters to life through dynamic grayscale illustrations featuring highlights of millennial pink. Freddy and her friends live in Berkeley, California, and have a diversity of body shapes, gender expressions, sexualities, and skin tones.

A triumphant queer coming-of-age story that will make your heart ache and soar. (Graphic novel. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62672-259-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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