Forget the capes and tights: this is an entirely accessible and richly imagined superhero tour de force.

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THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WEST

From the Battling Boy series

A teenage superheroine vows to destroy the monster that killed her mother but discovers vengeance doesn’t come without dire consequences.

Following The Rise of Aurora West (2014), Aurora and her notorious superhero father are still haunted by the long-unsolved murder of her mother by a nefarious seven-fingered monster. Determined to solve the mystery herself, Aurora also yearns to break free from the shadow of her famous father. Venturing out alone, she stalks a fiendish syndicate of masked monsters that has been terrorizing her home, Arcopolis. Through her unrelenting search, she discovers a shocking truth—could she have played a role in her mother's murder? Now imbued with her newfound dangerous knowledge, Aurora must make a decision that could not only save her family, but the city at large. Rubín's frenetic black-and-white illustrations stylistically complement Pope and Petty's breakneck-paced plotting. True to the genre, the story explores notions of good and evil but provides no easy answers. Aurora is a powerful heroine who is refreshingly free of sexualized buxom stylings, instead relying on her intelligence and strength. This is a must-read for readers tired of traditional superheroes with endlessly shifting storylines and vast back stories. With their wholly original worldbuilding and cinematically explosive pace, Pope and Petty have created a strong female protagonist that should easily appeal to both genders.

Forget the capes and tights: this is an entirely accessible and richly imagined superhero tour de force. (Graphic adventure. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-010-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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This bland techno-thriller has plenty of action but not quite enough style.

CODE NAME KOMIKO

A teenage hacktivist and her online comrades encounter danger and betrayal when they begin investigating a fashion mogul’s business operations in Hong Kong.

Lian leads a double life. Offline, she is her parents’ “Little Panda,” the studious, obedient daughter of an affluent family; online, she is Komiko, a trusted member of 06/04, a pseudonymous group of hackers dedicated to exposing government and corporate wrongdoing. Her two worlds collide with a vengeance after a corpse washes up on Big Wave Bay Beach, as Lian soon stumbles upon a link between the dead girl and one of her father’s business partners, Rand Harrison. Her situation becomes even more complicated when Harrison’s smarmy son, Matt, transfers into her school, where their paths cross regularly. Lian’s readiness to risk her own safety to secure evidence of Harrison’s crimes makes for a fast-paced story, marked by narrow escapes and high-speed chases. Alas, the technological action fizzles in comparison, as Lian’s elite hacker research appears to consist mostly of basic Web searches. In addition, the novel’s Hong Kong feels more like a movie set than a lived-in city, and it doesn’t help that even the non-American characters often speak colloquially American dialogue.

This bland techno-thriller has plenty of action but not quite enough style. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62324-023-3

Page Count: 285

Publisher: Scarlet Voyage/Enslow

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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AKIKO ON THE PLANET SMOO

Opening episodes of a comic-book series created by an American teacher in Japan take a leap into chapter-book format, with only partial success. Resembling—in occasional illustrations—a button-eyed, juvenile Olive Oyl, Akiko, 10, is persuaded by a pair of aliens named Bip and Bop to climb out her high-rise bedroom’s window for a trip to M&M-shaped Planet Smoo, where Prince Fropstoppit has been kidnapped by widely feared villainness Alia Rellaport. Along with an assortment of contentious sidekicks, including brainy Mr. Beeba, Akiko battles Sky Pirates and video-game-style monsters in prolonged scenes of cartoony violence, displaying resilience, courage, and leadership ability, but not getting very far in her rescue attempt; in fact, the story cuts off so abruptly, with so little of the quest completed, and at a lull in the action to boot, that readers expecting a self-contained (forget complete) story are likely to feel cheated. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-32724-2

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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