Thursday, June 20, 2019

Scythe


Contributed by Eli, gr. 12, June 2019
I was not amazed by this sci-fi novel, which came as a surprise since I had seen many positive reviews, but I do plan to continue the series. The premise is that, hundreds of years from now, humans can only die if they are selected by “scythes” -- people who keep population growth under control. While it is a young adult book, it leans toward the younger end of YA fiction, and definitely focuses more on plot than character development.
 The main reasons I did not love this novel are the overly simple and sometimes repetitive writing, and that the major characters’ feelings and personalities are described instead of shown to the reader. However, it is a strong narrative in its intense action, thought-provoking themes, and realistic conflict (although the villains are exaggerated and I could not always take them seriously). The world-building and pacing are not consistently impressive, but in the best moments -- combined with several well- executed plot developments -- they make for a true page-turner. The author wraps up the primary issues while still leaving questions about the characters’ futures, so the first installment in this series can work as a single story.
I would recommend Scythe to grade 9s and 10s in search of a fast, entertaining tale with minimal romance, but that also tackles moral and philosophical dilemmas. The satirical atmosphere may not appeal to everybody, but could be ideal for people who do not want to become deeply invested in the protagonists. Readers should also be warned of violent elements including self-inflicted injury, and that there are occasionally insulting jokes made about side characters due to their appearance.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Forgotten Man


Recommended by Garnet, gr. 11, 2018-19 school year

I have never known much about American history in general and figured that reading about such a prominent period of time like The Great Depression in the format of a graphic novel might educate me  in a way that is easy to understand because of the illustrations.

The story follows different conflicts during the Great Depression through a political focus. Because the story switches perspectives often, there isn’t really any obvious main character but these are a few of the people who stand out against the rest. Rex Tugwell is an economist who’s trying to solve the problem of farming poverty. Then there’s Franklin Roosevelt,the President of the United States, who is focused upon getting the country out of the Great Depression. Finally there is the narrator Wendell Willkie who is fighting a power company called the T.V.A.

While I enjoyed The Forgotten Man, the majority of the politics were lost on me due to a lack of knowledge relating to politics. would recommend The Forgotten Man to someone having some prior knowledge of American history and politics during the 1930s.

Flight


Contributed by Nalin, gr. 11, May 2019

The first Flight novel is fascinating and inspiring. Flight is an American comics anthology series edited by Kazu Kibuishi. In total, there are 8 books in the series that is continued by another anthology called Explorer; however, for this review I will only be commenting on the first novel.

The first novel contains 23 stories that showcase the works of young and innovative artists and writers. The creators all have different styles and ways of telling stories but each story has the same theme: flight. I recommend this series to any young and inspiring artists or writers as the creators bring different views and techniques that everyone can appreciate and learn from.

For example, the first story, called “Air and Water,” created by Enrico Casarosa, is about taking flight from the water to the sky. Although the concept sounds simple and bland, the way Casarosa illustrates the story takes the reader on a journey.  You will experience the feelings and thoughts of the character as you read the story and absorb the illustrations. Another interesting story in this novel is called “Paper String,” created by Jen Wang. Instead of using conventional hand-drawn illustration, Wang tells the story using collage.

So much thought, effort, work, and artistry has gone into the stories, which is why I believe that it will inspire artists, writers, and readers.


Monday, June 17, 2019

Zenobia

Contributed by Koshi, gr. 11, May 2019
 
Zenobia is the story of a Syrian refugee escaping the war zone in Syria. Its unique art style is what makes this graphic novel stand out of its competitors. Written by Danish author Morten Dürr and fellow Danish illustrator Lars Horneman, the book won the 2017 Danish National Illustration Award for its breathtaking visuals and its minimal use of words.
 
The story follows Amina, a young girl from a village in Syria in her regular lifestyle. Usually spending her days with her mother and father, life looks  normal for Amina. However, as civil unrest grows in the country and eventually reaches her village. Tanks overrun the land as the sky is conquered by jets. As Amina realizes what’s happening, she heads west towards the sea to avoid this conflict, and thinks of Zenobia, a great warrior her mother told her about. Why you may ask? You’ll have to read to find out!

 

 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Anya's Ghost

 
Contributed by Kate, gr. 11, May 2019

I originally chose this book because I liked the art style, but the story quickly drew me in. The main character Anya is relatable but still has a strong personality of her own. Her struggle to fit in seems to disappear when she falls down a well and meets a new friend --  who may happen to be a ghost --  but despite this fantasy element, the storyline is relatable.

I think everyone, at some point, wishes for help in navigating life, so it’s captivating to see how it goes for Anya. This book is appealing for its art, and its funny, and touching moments.



Illegal

Contributed by Lena-Marie, gr. 11, May 2019
 
Are you looking for a powerful and moving graphic novel? Illegal by Eoin Colfer might be the right choice for you. Accompany Ebo on his dangerous journey from Niger to Europe and experience a refugee’s journey closely. Ebo is a motherless 12 year old boy who is looking for his older brother. Since the graphic novel is based on a true story, the illustrations are very realistic. The topic is very important and it’s a story that must be heard!
 
I recommend this graphic novel to students from grade 10-12. Once you start this graphic novel you won’t be able to put it down. The illustrations are well done and communicate the right message: the truth about the harshness of a refugee’s journey.
 
The story has a short length so you can read it in one sitting. I think that Eoin Colfer managed to create an authentic, emotional, and engaging story about a serious topic.

 

 

The Witch Boy

Contributed by Hannah, gr. 11, May 2019

If you like magic, if you like witches, and if you like seeing someone's journey to discovering who they are, then this is a graphic novel for you. The Witch Boy, by Molly Knox Ostertag, includes all of these elements and more. It is very well-written and thought out. I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel and I would suggest it to anybody who loves magic, and is looking for a short read.
 
This book will keep you on the edge of your seat. It captures the struggles of a young boy who is supposed to be a shapeshifter but instead wishes to have the magic only girls (witches) are allowed to use. However, there is also a non-magical section of the world and when the main character, Aster, befriends a “normal” human, he tells her all about his magic, his problems at home, and his life. They meet by accident but their friendship blossoms into something heartwarming. There are many strong and likeable characters. It is a story that you never want to put down. The drawings are extremely well done because they clearly express how the characters are feeling. The colors in the book are beautiful and vibrant.
 
When a graphic novel is about magic and monsters, it needs to be bold -- and this is definitely a graphic novel filled with adventure and conflict. I would suggest it to any middle school or high school reader and suggest that readers to enjoy it check out sequels to this graphic novel: The Hidden Witch and The Midwinter Witch.