It’s the haunting details of those around Kai that readers will remember.


Kai’s life is upended when his coastal village is devastated in Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami in this verse novel from an author who experienced them firsthand.

With his single mother, her parents, and his friend Ryu among the thousands missing or dead, biracial Kai, 17, is dazed and disoriented. His friend Shin’s supportive, but his intact family reminds Kai, whose American dad has been out of touch for years, of his loss. Kai’s isolation is amplified by his uncertain cultural status. Playing soccer and his growing friendship with shy Keiko barely lessen his despair. Then he’s invited to join a group of Japanese teens traveling to New York to meet others who as teenagers lost parents in the 9/11 attacks a decade earlier. Though at first reluctant, Kai agrees to go and, in the process, begins to imagine a future. Like graphic novels, today’s spare novels in verse (the subgenre concerning disasters especially) are significantly shaped by what’s left out. Lacking art’s visceral power to grab attention, verse novels may—as here—feel sparsely plotted with underdeveloped characters portrayed from a distance in elegiac monotone. Kai’s a generic figure, a coat hanger for the disaster’s main event, his victories mostly unearned; in striking contrast, his rural Japanese community and how they endure catastrophe and overwhelming losses—what they do and don’t do for one another, comforts they miss, kindnesses they value—spring to life.

It’s the haunting details of those around Kai that readers will remember. (author preface, afterword) (Verse fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53474-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A charming adaptation.


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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