May. 2nd, 2017

mrissa: (Default)

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

Review copy provided by First Second Books.

This is a memoir of Hale’s grade school struggles with friendship and group dynamics, and also her relationship with her oldest sister. It’s trying to be aimed at kids–it’s trying to give kids the message that they deserve friends who treat them well–and I really like that message.

But truthfully I feel like this is really more of an adult-appeal book. I can easily imagine adults giving it to kids in their lives who are struggling with friendship and group dynamics, and maybe some of those kids will find it useful or comforting. But for the most part the ’80s references don’t feel intricate enough to be fascinating to kids for whom they’re historical, just touchstones for people who lived through it. And the semi-nostalgic, semi-rueful adult perspective feels very present–it’s definitely “here is an adult telling you, kiddo, a story.”

Part of my problem here, I think, is with the graphic novel format. This is a very short graphic novel, and there are sections where LeUyen Pham’s art is given a chance to shine, notably the imagination games little Shannon plays with her friends. But none of the things that make Shannon Hale a unique individual have enough *time* to feel very developed here. It’s short even for a kids’ graphic novel. It’s not offensive. I’m definitely behind the message. I’m just not sure about the target audience really connecting with it.

Please consider using our link to buy Real Friends from Amazon.

mrissa: (Default)

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

Review copy provided by First Second Books.

The cover of this graphic novel says only the two names listed above, but the title page has, in smaller letters, “colors by Hilary Sycamore.” Comics are almost always a group endeavor, but this is the first time I have specifically wanted to mention the color work as making the book. The nature of the story is such that having psychedelic, violently variable colors strongly reinforces it, to the point where I’m not sure this story could exist in black and white. Well done, Hilary Sycamore.

This is clearly the first volume of a series. The story ends on a cliffhanger and doesn’t do all that much besides setting up the characters and scenario. Regular readers of comics/graphic novels may be used to that; it’s not something I really like. I also found that the tropes it leans on (non-verbal child character, creepy doll, “haunted” hospital) had not, as of the end of this volume, been revitalized into feeling like something new and special here.

I did think that the idea of Addison attempting to use her camera to document the horrors her family had endured was a cool one. She seemed to approach it far more in that vein than as an artist, but the spectrum of documentary photography to art photography is an interesting one anyway. I’m interested in a heroine who wants to shoot monsters in a non-fatal way–I just wish we’d gotten more of the story to see more of that.

Please consider using our link to buy Spill Zone from Amazon.

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