Spill Zone: Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Addison’s life changed forever when the Spill Zone first appeared three years ago. With her parents missing and presumed dead somewhere within the Zone, Addison has been supporting her little sister Lexa by selling the illegal photographs she takes of the Zone’s twisted reality, but her last trip left her permanently changed. Desperate to get her sister away from the Zone so that they can live a normal life, Addison plans to use the payoff from her last trip to start a new life somewhere else, but Lexa and her possessed doll, Vespertine, have other plans. Now the US and North Korean governments are after them, and if Addison wants to save her family, she can no longer ignore the lasting effects of the Zone.
Westerfeld and Puvilland have created a stunningly eerie world that continues to grow in this second and final volume of the Spill Zone story. Readers will learn more about what happened to Lexa the night of the event as well as the mystery surrounding Vespertine’s existence, and while this enthralling volume brings closure to the overarching story and its mysteries, readers will be left wanting to see more of the Spill Zone world and characters. A difficult task for many YA literature authors, Westerfeld has masterfully transitioned to the graphic novel format, and Puvilland’s jagged and dazzling colored illustrations bring the world to life. Spill Zone: Broken Vow will appeal to a wide range of readers but especially to teens looking for action packed suspense mixed in with creepy paranormal world building.
Norroway Book 1: The Black Bull of Norroway by Kit & Cat Seaton
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Sibylla isn’t like her sisters who both want good marriages to rich husbands. Sibylla wants adventure. And it seems like she will get it when a witch foretells that she will wed the fearsome Black Bull of Norroway. He was once a man, but is now cursed with the form of a bull.
Sibylla finds herself swept up in the mystery behind the curse. Why was the Bull cursed? Why does his entire family seem to be cursed as well? And does Sibylla even want to help the Bull if he keeps acting so rude and unpleasant?
Sibylla is relatable in her thirst for adventure and annoyance with nobody answering her questions. Side characters like the Bull’s brother Esben, sister Dagny, and the sister’s friend Harper are given intriguing personalities and hints at complex backgrounds that tie in to the larger mystery. The similarities to Beauty and the Beast hook the reader right away, while there is enough originality in the character design and plot to keep the reader interested. There are very dark moments, like references to a character losing their feet by dancing in hot metal shoes. The serious scenes are lightened by the occasional moments of brevity, usually involving Sibylla. This is an engaging read with a lot of positive diverse representation in a small package. Great for fans of Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.
Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary, 1852-1903 by Christian Perrissin, Illustrated by Matthieu Blanchin
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Perrissin’s massive tome follows the life of Calamity Jane from her early life struggling to live in the West while taking care of her siblings after the death of her parents, to her days of roaming the Wild West working with the army and the Pony Express, to her relationship with Wild Bill Hickok and her death.
Not much is truly known about Calamity Jane, she was known to exaggerate and records of her life are slim. Regardless, she was a woman ahead of her time. She was a survivor, a cowboy and a rebel, during a time that most women were meant to stay home and raise families. She did what she had to do to survive in a harsh environment, even disguise herself as a man on occasion to obtain work. She’s a fascinating character in American history that teens would be interested in learning more about. The dialogue and detailed artwork create a fast-paced, action-packed story with tons of history about the Wild West interspersed.
Fans of graphic non-fiction or biographies, particularly with strong women and/or feminist protagonists will enjoy learning about Calamity Jane’s life. Recommended for older teens, due to violence and some sexual content.