Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Poison Ivy: Thorns by Kody Keplinger, Art by Sara Kipin

Poison Ivy Thorns Cover Art

Poison Ivy: Thorns by Kody Keplinger, Art by Sara Kipin
DC Comics 
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
ISBN: 9781401298425

This original graphic novel offers a gothic take on the origin story of DC’s antihero/sometimes villain Poison Ivy. Teenager Pamela Isley’s father has taught her to keep her head down to avoid drawing attention to the horrible things going on in their mansion at night. Without any real friends and facing bullying and harassment at school, Pamela finds comfort in plants — her true passion. It often feels like no one else cares about plants like she does, and she finds herself turning to dangerous methods to save a nearby park. One day, a cute goth girl shows interest in her, and Pamela has to decide whether it’s worth the risk of being found out, both for her family’s secrets and her own.

Poison Ivy: Thorns is completely self-contained and doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the DC universe, although the connection to the world of Batman provides a hook for those interested in the comics and movies. This dark, intense story is an extremely quick read. The story-telling is straightforward: dialogue is pared down to only what’s necessary, and the creative team often lets the art speak for itself. The colors by Jeremy Lawson help set the gothic tone, with a palette of dark, somber earth tones making up Pamela’s world, her fiery red hair often standing out as the only bright color on the page. The mystery of what exactly is going on in the Isley mansion will keep readers engaged, and the romance lends a sweetness and occasional humor to offset the darkness. As it’s an origin story, there’s a sense of inevitable tragedy, but readers will be unable to put the book down until they find out exactly what happens to push Pamela over the edge. 

This graphic novel will appeal to readers who like dark, atmospheric tales with horror and gothic elements, like Wilder Girls by Rory Power and Through the Woods by Emily Carroll.

–Laura Indick, Brooklyn, NY

Other Nominated Titles

  • Amari and the Night Brothers  by B.B. Alston (January 19, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the Title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.