TRUCKUS MAXIMUS

A truly marvelous tribute to underdogs.

In a near-futuristic Roman Empire, scores of subjugated drivers compete and survive in a cruel, destructive game known as Truckus Maximus.

Overseen by the Dominus, an omnipresent gamemaster that bends and twists the rules in an instant, the game dangles the promise of freedom to whichever driver can win 100 races and achieve the coveted rank of Centurion. Enter Axl, lead driver of Team Apollo, who’s racking up win after win in an impressive feat of ambition. When Axl recruits a headstrong young driver named Piston, it seems as if he’s courting disaster. The girl’s impressive string of damaging losses hurtles her toward the bottom of the rankings despite Axl’s training efforts. Piston’s unorthodox driving style, however, soon proves advantageous. Axl, meanwhile, scores his 99th win. As his final race approaches, the honor-bound hero must contend with the attention of the whole Roman Empire, including the malevolent Caesar. Thanks to the incisive probing of the crushing power of spectacle via a focus on the game and its toll on the drivers, the story evokes oppressive regimes. The gritty artwork overflows with frenetic action, using colors that evoke a dystopian world. Ample use of close-ups, irregular panel layouts, and other techniques sharpen the story’s emotional resonance and stakes. Diversity in the multiethnic cast presents mainly via skin color; Axl has brown skin and hair, and Piston is light-skinned and blonde.

A truly marvelous tribute to underdogs. (Graphic fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-814-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

MACBETH

From the Wordplay Shakespeare series

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced...

A pairing of the text of the Scottish Play with a filmed performance, designed with the Shakespeare novice in mind.

The left side of the screen of this enhanced e-book contains a full version of Macbeth, while the right side includes a performance of the dialogue shown (approximately 20 lines’ worth per page). This granular focus allows newcomers to experience the nuances of the play, which is rich in irony, hidden intentions and sudden shifts in emotional temperature. The set and costuming are deliberately simple: The background is white, and Macbeth’s “armor” is a leather jacket. But nobody’s dumbing down their performances. Francesca Faridany is particularly good as a tightly coiled Lady Macbeth; Raphael Nash-Thompson gives his roles as the drunken porter and a witch a garrulousness that carries an entertainingly sinister edge. The presentation is not without its hiccups. Matching the video on the right with the text on the left means routinely cutting off dramatic moments; at one point, users have to swipe to see and read the second half of a scene’s closing couplet—presumably an easy fix. A “tap to translate” button on each page puts the text into plain English, but the pop-up text covers up Shakespeare’s original, denying any attempts at comparison; moreover, the translation mainly redefines more obscure words, suggesting that smaller pop-ups for individual terms might be more meaningful.

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced e-book makes the play appealing and graspable to students . (Enhanced e-book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The New Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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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