Immersive, mysterious, and just the right amount of trippy.

READ REVIEW

TOPSIDE

When a small mistake quickly snowballs, a young girl of color braves the strange surface of her planet to prove she can set things right.

In a crumbling subterranean society like the Interior, repair technicians are essential, and Jo Wilson is one of the best. Skilled, vigilant, and committed to doing her job well and without help, Jo wants nothing more than to demonstrate her competence and expand her opportunities to fix what is broken. So when a minor mistake turns into a major problem, Jo is determined to rectify the situation on her own (and ideally before any Interior agents take notice) by traveling to the planet’s ungoverned surface. But with forged papers, a clandestine mission, a con artist guide, and bounty hunters in pursuit, trouble is inevitable. Monk (editor: Enough Space for Everyone Else, 2016) has crafted a work that demonstrates the dynamic narrative balance so distinctive of science fiction in which a technology- and action-heavy plot is driven by thoughtful character motivations. Bogosian’s (Kringlewart and the Crookedest Christmas Tree, 2016) art follows through with visual depth for a planetary setting that literally comes alive and a refreshingly gender-expansive and racially diverse cast. Some readers may be a bit disappointed with a conclusion that falls short in narrative complexity, but the likelihood of sequels for further exploration is an effective balm.

Immersive, mysterious, and just the right amount of trippy. (Graphic science fiction. 12-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5124-4589-3

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Without a shadow of a doubt, readers will enjoy this hero’s backstory.

SHADOW OF THE BATGIRL

The story behind Batgirl.

Cassandra Cain is trained to kill. Raised by a criminal mastermind, she knows only how to fight and execute. One day she freezes in the face of one victim’s desperation for her to pass on a message to his daughter. Not wanting to return home, she is found on the streets by noodle shop owner Jackie Fujikawa Yoneyama, who gives her a free meal. Cassandra also finds solace in the Gotham Public Library, where, having been raised with little conversation, she learns to comprehend language by listening to librarian Barbara’s storytimes about Batgirl. Fascinated, Cassandra begins to understand her life before, with her villain of a father, and to envision the life she wants to lead in the future, as a hero. This is an excellent introduction to Cassandra’s backstory and her journey to becoming Batgirl. The detailed illustrations and meticulous coloring add emotion and effectively convey movement. Dark memories and moments are shrouded in blue and purple while Cassandra’s safe, comforting spells are brightened by shades of yellow and orange. Cassandra’s sweet, touching story includes themes of self-discovery, relationships, family, and personal choices, and there’s enough action to keep readers interested. The cast of characters is diverse in race and ability; Cassandra has mutism, she and Jackie are Asian, and red-haired Barbara uses a wheelchair.

Without a shadow of a doubt, readers will enjoy this hero’s backstory. (Graphic novel. 12-17)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4012-8978-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A charming adaptation.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

From the Manga Classics series

A miscommunication leaves Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert responsible for a plucky, effusive orphan girl instead of the boy they’d expected to help maintain their farm.

Retold in traditional manga format, with right-to-left panel orientation and detailed black-and-white linework, this adaptation is delightfully faithful to the source text. Larger panels establish the idyllic country landscape while subtle text boxes identify the setting—Prince Edward Island, Canada, in the 1870s. The book follows redheaded Anne Shirley from her arrival at Green Gables at 11 to her achievement of a college scholarship. In the intervening years, Anne finds stability, friendship, personal growth, and ambition in Avonlea and in the strict but well-intentioned Cuthbert siblings’ household. The familiar story is enhanced by the exciting new format and lush illustrations. A variety of panel layouts provides visual freshness, maintaining reader interest. Backmatter includes the floor plan of the Green Gables house, as well as interior and exterior views, and notes about research on the actual location. A description of the process of adapting the novel to this visual format indicates the care that was taken to highlight particular elements of the story as well as to remain faithful to the smallest details. Readers who find the original text challenging will welcome this as an aid to comprehension and Anne’s existing fans will savor a fresh perspective on their beloved story. All characters appear to be White.

A charming adaptation. (Graphic fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947808-18-8

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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