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

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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BEOWULF

Pairing art from an earlier, self-published edition to a newly adapted text, Hinds retells the old tale as a series of dark, bloody, chaotic clashes. Here Grendel is a glaring, black monster with huge teeth, corded muscles and a tendency to smash or bite off adversaries’ heads; the dragon is all sinuous viciousness; and Beowulf, mighty of thew, towers over his fellow Geats. The narrative, boxed off from the illustrations rather than incorporated into them, runs to lines like, “Bid my brave warriors O Wiglaf, to build a lofty cairn for me upon the sea-cliffs . . . ” and tends to disappear when the fighting starts. Because the panels are jumbled together on the page, the action is sometimes hard to follow, but this makes a strongly atmospheric alternative to the semi-abstract Beowulf, the Legend, by Stephen L. Antczak and James C. Bassett, illus by Andy Lee (2006), or the more conventionally formatted version of Michael Morpurgo, with pictures by Michael Foreman (2006). (Graphic fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3022-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery.

DISPLACEMENT

Time travel brings a girl closer to someone she’s never known.

Sixteen-year-old Kiku, who is Japanese and white, only knows bits and pieces of her family history. While on a trip with her mother to San Francisco from their Seattle home, they search for her grandmother’s childhood home. While waiting for her mother, who goes inside to explore the mall now standing there, a mysterious fog envelops Kiku and displaces her to a theater in the past where a girl is playing the violin. The gifted musician is Ernestina Teranishi, who Kiku later confirms is her late grandmother. To Kiku’s dismay, the fog continues to transport her, eventually dropping her down next door to Ernestina’s family in a World War II Japanese American internment camp. The clean illustrations in soothing browns and blues convey the characters’ intense emotions. Hughes takes inspiration from her own family’s story, deftly balancing complicated national history with explorations of cultural dislocation and biracial identity. As Kiku processes her experiences, Hughes draws parallels to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and the incarceration of migrant children. The emotional connection between Kiku and her grandmother is underdeveloped; despite their being neighbors, Ernestina appears briefly and feels elusive to both Kiku and readers up to the very end. Despite some loose ends, readers will gain insights to the Japanese American incarceration and feel called to activism.

A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery. (photographs, author’s note, glossary, further reading) (Graphic historical fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19353-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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