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From the Arden High series , Vol. 1

Endearing, magically infused, romantic comedy hijinks.

Vi Messaline has always done everything with her twin brother, Sebastian.

So she’s shocked when he decides he’d rather stay at their private boarding school instead of attending public school alongside her. And Arden High is not your average public school: Fairies run the social scene, glittery magic permeates the woods, and oddball students and their shenanigans rule the day. Taciturn and sensitive Vi is set to go solo in an overwhelming and strange environment. Adopted by a new, quirky friend group, she’s then swept up in Shakespeare’s familiar love quadrangle. This retelling closely follows the beats of the original Twelfth Night, and it’s solidly grounded as it tackles the often retold tale. The surprises lie mostly in the effervescent and goofy tone. Although Vi grapples with real issues—trying out a less feminine gender presentation, grieving the loss of her father, and navigating her changing relationship with Sebastian—the focus is on fun. Green’s buoyant art effectively augments this tone, with extremely appealing and expressive character designs and settings full of lush detail. Clever updates to the source material include the cliques to which the characters belong and the use of social media to facilitate mistaken identities. This playing to strengths helps readers overlook a breakneck timeline and less emotional complexity in some storylines. The cast is heavily queer and racially diverse; Vi reads White.

Endearing, magically infused, romantic comedy hijinks. (Graphic fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-06239-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A fast-paced dip into the possibility of a world without human emotions.

A teenage girl refuses a medical procedure to remove her heart and her emotions.

June lives in a future in which a reclusive Scientist has pioneered a procedure to remove hearts, thus eliminating all “sadness, anxiety, and anger.” The downside is that it numbs pleasurable feelings, too. Most people around June have had the procedure done; for young people, in part because doing so helps them become more focused and successful. Before long, June is the only one among her peers who still has her heart. When her parents decide it’s time for her to have the procedure so she can become more focused in school, June hatches a plan to pretend to go through with it. She also investigates a way to restore her beloved sister’s heart, joining forces with Max, a classmate who’s also researching the Scientist because he has started to feel again despite having had his heart removed. The pair’s journey is somewhat rushed and improbable, as is the resolution they achieve. However, the story’s message feels relevant and relatable to teens, and the artwork effectively sets the scene, with bursts of color popping throughout an otherwise black-and-white landscape, reflecting the monochromatic, heartless reality of June’s world. There are no ethnic or cultural markers in the text; June has paper-white skin and dark hair, and Max has dark skin and curly black hair.

A fast-paced dip into the possibility of a world without human emotions. (Graphic speculative fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9780063116214

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in.

In a not-so-distant future where changing one’s physical features is as easy as purchasing nanobot mods, Sunati falls for Austen, a girl who always looks the same.

Since Austen never changes, Sunati admires what she assumes is her bravery and confidence. As Sunati and Austen chat more, Austen bluntly asks Sunati if she only wants to get to know her more because of her medical condition, which prevents her from using mods. As they gradually grow closer, Sunati learns how to interact more respectfully with those who have overactive immune systems as well as to share her feelings more honestly. Austen, in turn, learns to trust Sunati. This beautifully illustrated slice-of-life tale that shows two young women of color getting to know each other and creating a relationship is so warm and charming that readers will hardly notice how much they are learning about how to better interact with folx who are different from themselves and the importance of not making assumptions. The story also successfully weaves in agender, genderfluid, and asexual characters as well as the subjects of parenting and colorism into the natural arc of Sunati and Austen’s developing story. The soft, romantic artwork evokes hazy watercolors. The speech bubbles are predominantly pink and blue, and the varied layout will maintain readers’ interest.

A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in. (Graphic romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1110-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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