A thought-provoking, beautiful exploration of the artistic process.

INTO THE DANGEROUS WORLD

Aurora, raised in a rural commune, finds her notions of art challenged by her introduction to the New York City graffiti-art scene in the 1980s.

Aurora is struggling to define her artistic identity, a process complicated by her father’s suicide by house fire, an act that nearly killed the entire family. The tragedy forces Aurora, her sister, and their mother into New York City. Caught in the whirlwind of public assistance and public school, and besieged by the city’s commercialized chaos, Aurora retreats into her sketchbooks to explore her father’s complicated legacy. Her drawings of her father on fire and her imagined conversations with him, in which he offers opinions on her new life, powerfully complement the prose, the sketchlike quality of the art emulating an artist’s personal sketchbook. In art class, Aurora meets Trey, a graffiti artist with whom she forms a contentiously competitive bond that is also laced with admiration and attraction—a relationship not unlike Aurora’s feelings about graffiti, which she finds both alluring and perilous. Aurora acknowledges the graffiti artists’ talents, as well as the issues of danger and vandalism that accompany the medium. With a nod to the best parts of her father’s unconventional spirit, Aurora eventually integrates her own unorthodox styles into her graffiti while also exploring more traditional gallery spaces as potential avenues for her future works.

A thought-provoking, beautiful exploration of the artistic process. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3910-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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