Think of Hitchcock’s The Birds, only more intense and with many more animals.

SAVAGE

Three teens are trapped when a hurricane hits their New England island with more than just wind and water.

Animal lover Sidney works for the local vet and adores Snowy, her deaf, white German shepherd. When the storm hits, she is with Cody, whom she’s recently broken up with, and Rich, who secretly has a crush on her. The teens shelter in Rich’s vacation home but find themselves under attack from thousands of insects swarming up from the basement. The scene shifts to different venues, where different characters are attacked by similar swarms of animals, including formerly loving pets. Psychodramas—such as Sidney’s romantic travails and various neighbors’ own idiosyncratic problems—play out against the chaos. Sniegoski rarely lets up on the galloping suspense, putting his characters (almost all presumably white) in a few too many impossible-to-escape situations but keeping pulses pounding. Each time a character frantically tries to unlock a door while pursued by savage animals, be sure that character will drop his or her keys. Gruesome scenes abound, with characters eaten alive by swarms of insects, rats, squirrels, and domestic pets, including one in which birds kill a character, up close. The cause of the chaos is nicely sci-fi, thankfully without involving a mad scientist, and clearly, it’s going to get worse in the sequel.

Think of Hitchcock’s The Birds, only more intense and with many more animals. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4373-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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A reimagined folktale as grand as its painted visuals are sublime.

SHUNA'S JOURNEY

A dangerous quest to feed an impoverished land leads to chance encounters and awe-inspiring sights.

Shuna, the prince of a humble, struggling country, acts on the advice of a dying traveler from an Eastern land to seek out seeds that will grow bountiful grains. What he finds is a hostile city built on greed with an active slave trade. After meeting Thea and her little sister, Shuna fights to free them from enslavers. Every scene in this cinematic work stands apart with breathtaking watercolors aided by expert staging and blocking. The sights along Shuna’s journey range from a derelict ship in a treacherous desert to supernatural creatures and settings. The certainty and simplicity of Shuna’s motivations along with Thea’s own narrative arc allow the story to move nimbly from one larger-than-life spectacle to another. The pages read right-to-left manga style, while large panels and minimal dialogue create an immediate, immersive experience for readers. The narration sits outside or along the edges of panels, allowing the lush visuals maximum room to impress. Afterwords from the author and translator describe the story’s roots in a Tibetan folktale as well as comparisons to Miyazaki’s later animated works; this story, translated from Japanese, was originally published in Japan in 1983 before Miyazaki rose to fame with Studio Ghibli. The story’s cultural origins are cued through characters’ garb and other visual elements.

A reimagined folktale as grand as its painted visuals are sublime. (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-84652-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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