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GRIM BEGINNINGS

From the Kim Reaper series , Vol. 1

An appealing mixture of 95 percent humor and 5 percent horror perfect for fans of John Allison’s graphic-novel series Giant...

Two girls attending university crush on each other and fight supernatural creatures in this charming graphic novel for teens.

Uni student Becka has a thing for goth girls. Brown-haired, brown-skinned, curvy, and femme, she works in a bakery and spends her art-history class daydreaming about her classmate Kim: “a 100% cutie with a booty.” Kim is pale with a purple bob and cat’s-eye eyeliner. When Becka finally works up the nerve to ask Kim out, she follows her out of class—and accidentally stumbles through a pink portal surrounded by skulls and swirling purple ghosts. Kim, casually carrying a portal-creating scythe, is on her way to reap the soul of a cat, her current assignment in her new job as a part-time grim reaper (to pay her way through uni). Becka’s arrival disrupts the process, sending them on a whirlwind adventure-turned-date to save Kim’s job and get home safely. Zombies, ghouls, and skeletal reapers all make appearances, but Graley’s humorous dialogue and cute cartoon illustrations (featuring Gravity Falls–esque oversized eyes and bubble-gum colors) keep things light.

An appealing mixture of 95 percent humor and 5 percent horror perfect for fans of John Allison’s graphic-novel series Giant Days and the web series Carmilla. (Graphic fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62010-455-2

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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THE FAINT OF HEART

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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ALWAYS HUMAN

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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