A bursting-at-the-seams stand-alone empowerment story.

BELLE RÉVOLTE

An aristocrat and a commoner swap places to realize their dreams.

In this French-flavored fantasy, magic is classified as either the midnight arts (illusions, scrying, divining) or the noonday arts (physical magic oriented toward military uses and healing). As using magic takes a heavy toll on the practitioner’s body, nobles make use of talented commoners as hacks: The hacks channel the magic and take the brunt of the damage while the noble artist directs it. While being packed away to a finishing school where she’ll learn the midnight arts, noble Emilie happens upon Annette, a poor girl who looks like her. Seeing Annette’s interest in the midnight arts, Emilie proposes they switch places, enabling Annette to utilize the education and freeing Emilie to pose as a commoner in order to apply to the university as a physician’s hack (with the goal of breaking the gender barrier and becoming a physician herself). The protagonists keep in contact through letters and scrying, build new communities, and get an up-close look at their society’s ills—injustices targeted by revolutionary figurehead Laurel. As they fall into revolutionary orbits, the girls uncover dark secrets, devious politicking, and get a taste of war’s casualties. Various types of relationships and sexualities are given positive representation, including powerful platonic relationships, multiple lesbian romances, and characters who are trans, nonbinary, and asexual. The protagonists are white; there are several brown-skinned secondary characters.

A bursting-at-the-seams stand-alone empowerment story. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7922-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A reimagined folktale as grand as its painted visuals are sublime.

SHUNA'S JOURNEY

A dangerous quest to feed an impoverished land leads to chance encounters and awe-inspiring sights.

Shuna, the prince of a humble, struggling country, acts on the advice of a dying traveler from an Eastern land to seek out seeds that will grow bountiful grains. What he finds is a hostile city built on greed with an active slave trade. After meeting Thea and her little sister, Shuna fights to free them from enslavers. Every scene in this cinematic work stands apart with breathtaking watercolors aided by expert staging and blocking. The sights along Shuna’s journey range from a derelict ship in a treacherous desert to supernatural creatures and settings. The certainty and simplicity of Shuna’s motivations along with Thea’s own narrative arc allow the story to move nimbly from one larger-than-life spectacle to another. The pages read right-to-left manga style, while large panels and minimal dialogue create an immediate, immersive experience for readers. The narration sits outside or along the edges of panels, allowing the lush visuals maximum room to impress. Afterwords from the author and translator describe the story’s roots in a Tibetan folktale as well as comparisons to Miyazaki’s later animated works; this story, translated from Japanese, was originally published in Japan in 1983 before Miyazaki rose to fame with Studio Ghibli. The story’s cultural origins are cued through characters’ garb and other visual elements.

A reimagined folktale as grand as its painted visuals are sublime. (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-84652-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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