Colorful illustrations highlight episodic narratives: This is a story obscured by its own diffused telling.

Teen girls chart their paths toward self-discovery and teamwork.

In a palm-fringed seaside city, an intimate friendship between Ren and Luna blossoms as quickly as it withers when Luna moves away and becomes incommunicado. Luna’s return two years later sparks the central conflict that plays out as Ren navigates challenging relationships at home, in high school, and as captain of their brand-new five-person girls basketball team. Confronting blatant misogyny, the team their new biology teacher scrapes together feels as ambitious an undertaking as the narrative scope of this character-driven story. Stark glimpses of domestic discord, abusive adult behavior, smoking, drinking, self-harm, and body-shaming reveal the team members’ variously fraught personal circumstances and suggest compelling backstories that unfortunately remain underdeveloped. Stylistically and structurally similar to a comic book, this graphic novel’s visual vibrancy compensates for its scattered storytelling. From pastels signaling dawn’s promise to deep indigos of despair and energetic tones showing on-court action, the panels and palette assert attitude and grit. The pages’ shifting layout maintains a dynamic pace while the artwork conveys the intense—often conflicting—emotions inherent to adolescence and young adulthood. Leong concludes with a tribute to the inner light of her characters and to the power of friendship. The cast is ethnically diverse; Ren is black, and Luna has Chinese and Native Hawaiian ancestry.

Colorful illustrations highlight episodic narratives: This is a story obscured by its own diffused telling. (character sketches) (Graphic fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-14668-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020


Hinds adds another magnificent adaptation to his oeuvre (King Lear, 2009, etc.) with this stunning graphic retelling of Homer’s epic. Following Odysseus’s journey to return home to his beloved wife, Penelope, readers are transported into a world that easily combines the realistic and the fantastic. Gods mingle with the mortals, and not heeding their warnings could lead to quick danger; being mere men, Odysseus and his crew often make hasty errors in judgment and must face challenging consequences. Lush watercolors move with fluid lines throughout this reimagining. The artist’s use of color is especially striking: His battle scenes are ample, bloodily scarlet affairs, and Polyphemus’s cave is a stifling orange; he depicts the underworld as a colorless, mirthless void, domestic spaces in warm tans, the all-encircling sea in a light Mediterranean blue and some of the far-away islands in almost tangibly growing greens. Don’t confuse this hefty, respectful adaptation with some of the other recent ones; this one holds nothing back and is proudly, grittily realistic rather than cheerfully cartoonish. Big, bold, beautiful. (notes) (Graphic classic. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4266-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010


A thrilling, high-tech page-turner with deep roots.

A teen navigates different worlds: real and virtual, colonized and Indigenous.

In the near-future real world, Bugz’s family has clout in the community—her mom is their first modern-day woman chief, her father’s a highly admired man, and her older brother is handsome and accomplished. Socially awkward Bugz, by contrast, feels more successful in the virtual gaming world of the Floraverse, where she has amassed tremendous power. Yes, her ’Versona has a slimmed-down figure—but Bugz harnesses her passion for the natural world and her Anishinaabe heritage to build seemingly unbeatable defenses, especially her devoted, lovingly crafted Thunderbird and snake/panther Mishi-pizhiw. Cheered on by legions of fans, she battles against Clan:LESS, a group of angry, misogynistic male gamers. One of them, Feng, ends up leaving China under a cloud of government suspicion and moving to her reservation to live with his aunt, the new doctor; they are Muslim Uighurs who have their own history of forced reeducation and cultural erasure. Feng and Bugz experience mutual attraction—and mistrust—and their relationship in and out of the Floraverse develops hesitantly under a shadow of suspected betrayal. Kinew (Anishinaabe) has crafted a story that balances heart-pounding action scenes with textured family and community relationships, all seamlessly undergirded by storytelling that conveys an Indigenous community’s past—and the vibrant future that follows from young people’s active, creative engagement with their culture.

A thrilling, high-tech page-turner with deep roots. (glossary, resources) (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6900-2

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Penguin Teen

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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