An intriguing and incisive plot that starts promisingly but ultimately falls flat.

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THE ALTERED HISTORY OF WILLOW SPARKS

Relentlessly bullied by the popular clique, the titular protagonist discovers an unexpected way to change her future.

Plagued with tragically uncool hair and unfortunate acne, Willow Sparks certainly is not a member of the popular crowd. However, her two best friends, Georgia and Gary, are loyal, and together the trio navigates the social atrocities of their high school. While at her job at the local library, Willow finds herself cornered by her mean-girl nemeses and, after a violent episode, unearths a secret library within the library that’s filled with unusual books. She finds a mysterious tome bearing her name that allows her to write her own future—but with devastating effects. While the semi-Faustian trope certainly is not new, O’Connor’s graphic-novel spin on it is fun and captivating. Her art is expressive and deftly captures all the angst and action through a cinematic lens. However, as Willow’s self-conceived plans unravel, the plotting goes with it, leaving the strong beginning floundering through a hasty resolution. While Willow is fully fleshed out, the secondary characters—including best friend Georgia and Willow’s librarian boss—are frustratingly not as well-developed. Despite these quibbles, O’Connor’s offering is an enjoyable and quick dip into the dark side of wish fulfillment. Main character Willow is white, as is Gary, and Georgia is Asian.

An intriguing and incisive plot that starts promisingly but ultimately falls flat. (Graphic fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62010-450-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery.

DISPLACEMENT

Time travel brings a girl closer to someone she’s never known.

Sixteen-year-old Kiku, who is Japanese and white, only knows bits and pieces of her family history. While on a trip with her mother to San Francisco from their Seattle home, they search for her grandmother’s childhood home. While waiting for her mother, who goes inside to explore the mall now standing there, a mysterious fog envelops Kiku and displaces her to a theater in the past where a girl is playing the violin. The gifted musician is Ernestina Teranishi, who Kiku later confirms is her late grandmother. To Kiku’s dismay, the fog continues to transport her, eventually dropping her down next door to Ernestina’s family in a World War II Japanese American internment camp. The clean illustrations in soothing browns and blues convey the characters’ intense emotions. Hughes takes inspiration from her own family’s story, deftly balancing complicated national history with explorations of cultural dislocation and biracial identity. As Kiku processes her experiences, Hughes draws parallels to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and the incarceration of migrant children. The emotional connection between Kiku and her grandmother is underdeveloped; despite their being neighbors, Ernestina appears briefly and feels elusive to both Kiku and readers up to the very end. Despite some loose ends, readers will gain insights to the Japanese American incarceration and feel called to activism.

A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery. (photographs, author’s note, glossary, further reading) (Graphic historical fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19353-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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A charming adaptation.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

From the Manga Classics series

A miscommunication leaves Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert responsible for a plucky, effusive orphan girl instead of the boy they’d expected to help maintain their farm.

Retold in traditional manga format, with right-to-left panel orientation and detailed black-and-white linework, this adaptation is delightfully faithful to the source text. Larger panels establish the idyllic country landscape while subtle text boxes identify the setting—Prince Edward Island, Canada, in the 1870s. The book follows redheaded Anne Shirley from her arrival at Green Gables at 11 to her achievement of a college scholarship. In the intervening years, Anne finds stability, friendship, personal growth, and ambition in Avonlea and in the strict but well-intentioned Cuthbert siblings’ household. The familiar story is enhanced by the exciting new format and lush illustrations. A variety of panel layouts provides visual freshness, maintaining reader interest. Backmatter includes the floor plan of the Green Gables house, as well as interior and exterior views, and notes about research on the actual location. A description of the process of adapting the novel to this visual format indicates the care that was taken to highlight particular elements of the story as well as to remain faithful to the smallest details. Readers who find the original text challenging will welcome this as an aid to comprehension and Anne’s existing fans will savor a fresh perspective on their beloved story. All characters appear to be White.

A charming adaptation. (Graphic fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947808-18-8

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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