Book Talks: Recently Read Graphic Novels

Graphic Novels are a steady part of my typical reading life. I love the mix of art and storytelling. Lately, I have been reading some seriously great stories in comic form, so I wanted to share them with you. So here are the ones I have read over the last couple of months.

Book Talks: Recently Read Graphic Novels NewsPrints by Ru Xu.
Published by GRAPHIX on January 31st 2017. Hardcover: 208 pages.
Genres: Middle Grade, Comics & Graphic Novels, Steampunk

Blue is an orphan who disguises herself as a newsboy. There's a war going on, and girls are expected to help the struggling economy by selling cookies. But Blue loves living and working at the Bugle, the only paper in town that tells the truth. And what's printed in the newspapers now matters more than ever.

But Blue struggles with her secret, and worries that if her friends and adopted family at the Bugle find out that she's a girl, she'll lose everything and everyone she cares about. And when she meets and befriends Crow, a boy who is also not what he seems, together they seek the freedom to be their true selves... and to save each other.

As a steampunk story set in against a fantasy World War era, NewsPrints tells the story of Blue, an orphan girl hiding among the Newsboys of the city. She stumbles across an eccentric young gentleman who takes her in as his apprentice, and that sets her on a course she wasn’t expecting. From the first page, Xu drops you right in to Blue stumbling into some trouble, which just seems like a very typical day for her. I was immediately drawn in to her world, curious about the war and why she is running from a group of boys. And the high pacing continued throughout the entire story.

I appreciated the nods to women taking over the work during war times. We see Jill, the General’s daughter, running the entire workforce. We see women building and constructing. taking up the slack with vigor. And Blue herself, who wants to sell newspapers, who wants to help spread information, even though it is a “boy’s job.” There are definitely some feminist undertones in this story, and I am not opposed to it.

The most unique character in this story is Crow, a mysterious young boy who does not like to be in the presence of adults. He is adventurous, he is brave, and he is kind. He is the character I wanted to read the most. The friendship that develops between Crow and Blue is endearing–it represents the hope that is needed to get through times of war.

Overall, I enjoyed Xu’s combination of art and storytelling to tell such an exciting story. Right now this graphic novel stands alone, but this story felt like it was going to lead into a sequel. I’d be down for that for sure. A great addition to your middle school library!

Book Talks: Recently Read Graphic Novels Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerves, #1) (Wires and Nerve #1). by Marissa Meyer.Illustrated by Douglas Holgate.
Published by Feiwel & Friends on January 31st, 2017. Hardcover: 240 pages.
Genres: Young Adult, Comics & Graphic Novels, Science Fiction

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure -- with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

When this book was first announced, I cannot tell you how excited I was! The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite YA worlds and I was very happy to return to it again. This was originally slated as an Iko story, but actually it involves all of our favorite characters from the series, picking up where Winter leaves off. To avoid spoilers for the original series, that is all I will say plot wise. I did enjoy seeing Iko more fleshed out in this story–she is definitely one of the more interesting characters from the series. To see her able to shine as much as she does is exciting and makes me want to read more.

It is interesting to see a graphic novel series based around a YA series but not an adaptation. Seeing the story transform into graphic novel format adds a depth to the world development that you can’t get in just prose. But changing formats does change how the story–and subsequently the characters–develop. I quite enjoyed the pacing of this story and how it hopped from place to place without interrupting the overall story flow. I am anxious to see how this world continues to develop in this graphic series. Definitely a must-have for a library that serves fans of Cinder and company!

Book Talks: Recently Read Graphic Novels Afar by Leila del Duca.Illustrated by Kit Seaton.
Published by Image Comics on March 29th 2017. ARC: 152 pages.
Genres: Young Adult, Diverse Characters & Stories, Comics & Graphic Novels, Science Fiction

In AFAR, Boetema suddenly develops the ability to astrally project to other worlds, unintentionally possessing the bodies of people light years away. Inotu, her inquisitive brother with a pension for trouble, finds himself on the run after he's caught eavesdropping on an illegal business deal between small town business tycoons and their cyborg bodyguard. When Boetema accidentally gets someone hurt while in another girl's body, the siblings are forced to work together to solve the problems they've created on their planet and others.

Can I just revel in how stunningly beautiful this graphic novel is for a minute? Because, seriously y’all, every single element of this book is STUNNING. The first thing I have to talk about before anything else is the art. I am slightly obsessed with this art. Every page is just exquisite and beautiful. The coloring flows from page to page, allowing the story to develop and move organically along. The colors are vibrant and pop of the page, bringing the reader straight into this fantastical world.

The world building is as stunning as the art. The world that del Luca creates through these beautiful images is inviting and intriguing. I am immediately drawn to the characters and how they are individually interacting with the world. Boetema and Inotu, siblings, are experiencing the world in very different ways, but these differences bring them together to balance each other. Boetema is strong and passionate, a woman you feel for and root for. Inotu is the character you just want to scoop up and hug. Both of them together create a sibling chemistry of support and understanding in a world that continuously changes for them.

I really cannot speak highly enough about this story. It is beautiful, it is passionate, it is intriguing. It is a book a couldn’t put down.It is a story diverse in character and creative in world-building.  And best of all, it is an Image comic book that you can feel comfortable putting in your high school library!

Book Talks: Recently Read Graphic Novels Spill Zone (The Spill Zone #1). by Scott Westerfeld.Illustrated by Alex Puvilland.
Published by First Second on May 2nd 2017. Hardcover: 224 pages.
Genres: Young Adult, Comics & Graphic Novels, Science Fiction

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone.

The Spill claimed Addison's parents and scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn t spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone's twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death or worse.

When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival and ventures farther than she has ever dared. Within the Spill Zone, Hell awaits and it seems to be calling Addison's name.

This was one of my most anticipated graphic novels of the year. When I read the description I was immediately intrigued by the mysterious post-apocalyptic scenario. I wanted to know what the Spill Zone was, how it happened, what it means.

From the get go readers are immersed in the world of the Spill Zone through Addison’s unique money-making escapades–taking creepy photos of the weird happenings in the Spill Zone. To keep her and her sister fed, she risks her life exploring the dangers of this city messed up by a mysterious “spill”. The funky art adds depth to the eeriness of the Spill Zone. It is visually intriguing for sure. And this volume does a great job of developing the characters–I definitely want to know more about Addison and her sister and the weird art collector. This book does a great job of making me interested in what is going on. The only problem with this book is that no explanations are given! Readers just get immersed in this world with no answers of why. But I think that is part of the intrigue–you don’t know exactly what is going on or why. All you know is that it is weird as heck and you want to know more. While I kind of wish the pacing was a little bit faster (or this first book a little bit longer to include a little of the what and why), I am definitely still in for whatever is next.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes weird and funky stories or works with high schoolers who like weird and funky stories.


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