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City of Light, City of Dark: A Comic Book Novel
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City of Light, City of Dark: A Comic Book Novel

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  425 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Asterel races against time to locate a token which will prevent the Kurbs from freezing the city.
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published April 12th 2000 by Orchard Books (NY) (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 751)
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This graphic novel was just ok for me. I couldn't help wishing the writing went a little deeper than it did and the art was just alright, nothing particularly stylish or interesting about it. The framing device for the story about the sinister alien race could have led to something with more interest and energy, but instead just really only served as a framing device. *Spoilers ahead* I also felt like there was a lot of build up to moments of potential emotional climax and pathos that were never ...more
Ms. Schutte
Some masterful writers can slip seamlessly between mediums, constructing equally brilliant novels, comics, and film scripts (Neil Gaiman). But Avi is unfortunately not one of them. The story here is good enough, but my feeling reading it was that there was just no reason for it to be in graphic form. The drawings didn't move the plot forward or really add anything to make it more interesting. This seems like a classic example of Avi or his publishers wanting to try to capitalize on the popularit ...more
Dominic Tiberio
This was just OK. I love minimal/brushwork art and the cover caught my attention, but unfortunately there is just not much here. The writing is probably the biggest letdown and there are some major flaws to the storyline almost from the beginning and it never improves. The single thought I found myself going over and over as I read was why anyone would even bother writing/publishing a story with such minimal plot and so little to say? With a small amount of effort the plot and conflicts could ha ...more
Matthew Hundley
I love graphic novels. And I love the idea of re-imagining a city. City of Light, City of Dark re-casts NYC into an imaginative tale about Kurbs and a magical power force and those who keep the city from falling into peril. I like all that. The context. The actual style in which it is drawn and lettered is a bit "amateurish" for me. And I wasn't big on all the text used in the prologue. But the story was engaging enough to pull me through; and in some ways the "amateurish" nature of the artwork ...more
Octavia Cade
To start with the good points: I really loved how the city was portrayed in this. Granted, I've never been to New York but I got a real sense of it as a place from this. And the idea behind the story was really interesting.

However, there did seem to be a plot hole. I can't understand why Asterel couldn't see her daughter. I get that it was explained as Sarah not staying two days old forever, and that Asterel couldn't see her older face... but it's not like Sarah was two days old one day and elev
Robin Conley
I enjoyed the concept of this book, but I felt like there was a major flaw in the story. The father's motivation just was not believable to me, and it really ruined the story for me.

(view spoiler)
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 2.5 of 5

I am not particularly familiar with Avi, though I recognize his name as a prominent author in the YA/Children's Book field. What I don't know is whether this is a departure from his other writings, or if this is in line with the bulk of his cannon.

The story is a dark fantasy. Somesort of dark, supernatural beings, Kurbs, living deep beneath Manhattan island have loaned the island to humans. Every year, the humans must fi
Wayne McCoy
This is a reprint of a 1993 graphic novel by Avi. It involves a kidnapped girl, a blind schemer who talks to pigeons and a mysterious subway token.

In a preface that is more text than pictures, we learn about the creatures that supply power to the city of New York, the Kurbs. In a sort of game they hide a token in the city that must be found and returned to the Kurbs, or they turn off power to the city. A scheming man named Underton attempts to steal the token and ends up blinded. The story then
This graphic novel is not necessarily just for kids. In a city so famous, there's bound to be another story to it, but the one of which a deal with ghouls, or Kurbs as the author calls them, is something surely to look into. The city people have to fulfill a quest for the 'original owners' of the city land each year; bring a memento to show your allegiance to the Kurbs by the time midnight hits December 21st, the quest being reset ever Summer Solstice.

The quote that I remember most from this bo
This is a reprint of the 1993 graphic novel by Avi and Floca to celebrate it's 20th anniversary.
It is unknown to most people that the city of New York is actually owned by shadow creatures called the Kurbs who supply power to the city, also controlling day and night. When people began to settle there, they had to make a bargain with the Kurbs in order to live there. Part of the agreement had to do with a magic token that would be hidden by the Kurbs every year, and every year the chosen woman w
All around, this was just so-so. I'm sure children will enjoy it, but I wanted more depth - from both the plot and the illustrations. The illustrations were just black and white sketches, and I had a hard time distinguishing the mother and daughter. The plot was inventive, however: set in a dystopian New York City, the nondescript alienoid Kurbs loan the power to run the city to the occupants, with the condition that one special person (a position handed down from generation to generation) retur ...more
I read this during my students' unit on cartoons, comics, & graphic novels. It took me awhile to get into, but once I did, I was hooked. The story was gripping, and I was really pulling for the main characters. There's also a great dog. :) I don't love graphic novels, but this one kept my attention. I couldn't put it down. I was startled when I saw the Twin Towers. It's a story that could take place at any time, so it never crossed my mind that it was pre-9/11. It's so jarring to see the Wor ...more
Leah Wener-Fligner
Very disappointing. I like Avi a lot and wanted to see what he'd do with a graphic novel. The answer is, not much (not entirely his fault--the art was not good at all). A lot of it was typeset, not hand lettered, which left me unable to read the comic booky language (the POWER, the ceremony of the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE POWER) without feeling embarrassed for the writer's sake. The stakes of the story didn't seem high enough to keep me reading and the mystery wasn't very mysterious. I wanted Neil ...more
In the beginning, there were the Kurbs, who flocked toward darkness much as moths flock toward light. When people came to the Kurb island, they made an agreement with the Kurbs to share their power and split the days between dark and light. These days, this power is stored in a special token that looks just like a New York City subway token. As long as this token is in its special place by noon of December 21st each year, the days will begin to get longer, until the token is hidden by the Kurbs ...more
I enjoyed this battle of good versus evil set in New York City. The plot revolves around a special token desperately wanted by Thor Underton. Having been blinded in an accident years ago, he wants the token to help reclaim his sight and his power. The token, though, is essential to keeping the city safe as part of an agreement with frightening beings called Kurbs. Two teens, Carlos and Sarah, with nothing in common are drawn together when Carlos finds the token. As they unravel the mystery behin ...more
Online Eccentric Librarian
City of light, City of Dark is an ode to New York City, a magical urban fantasy unapologetically rooted in the 1990s (pre-9/11 and the digital age). Since I have not read any of Avi's novels, I am reviewing this from the perspective of the book alone - both story and illustration.

The story is simple: supernatural beings have 'lent' Manhattan to the humans but the humans must find and then return a power source yearly to the beings, the Kurbs. If the chosen human female fails even once in the yea
Stacy Bowden
City of Light, City of Dark is a graphic novel that centers around a "Ritual Cycle of Acknowledgment" between the Kurbs, a group of powerful beings, and the people of The People's City. Each year, on June 21st, the Kurbs place their power within a token and hide the token somewhere in The People's City. The people have six months to find it and return it to the Kurb's place of safekeeping no later than noon on December 21st or the city will grow dark, cold, and freeze, and the Kurbs will take ba ...more
Sarah Sammis
Avi is one of those authors who has written an umpty-billion novels across a number of genres. He could easily be his own section in the library or bookstore. In my own local library, Avi's books take up three rows of shelves. I could easily spend a month just reading and reviewing his books.

City of Light, City of Dark is a graphic novel illustrated by Brian Floca. It reconstructs the history of Manhattan island in an urban fantasy framework. The island belongs to the Kurbs but they lease the la
This is a reprinting of Avi and Brian Floca's 1993 graphic novel in celebration of its 20th anniversary.

The Kurbs have agreed to let humans live on their island and also power the city, but in exchange tribute must be paid. Every year, a token must be found and returned or the city will freeze. Mr. Underton is determined to have the Power for himself. Only Sarah and Carlos stand in his way.

This book doesn't seem to know if it wants to be a novel or a graphic novel. The prologue is formatted as a
Literary Princess
A very original story with solid characters. This is probably more of a middle grade than teen graphic novel, as the bad guy is very much the evil villain, and the good guys are very clearly right and must have success against all odds. But I liked the variety of character strengths that had nothing to do with stereotypes of gender or class or race (even though all of those variables were well represented).

I only wish this had been in color. Seriously. The illustrations were good and the story w
Reprinted for the 20th anniversary, Avi's story blends science fiction with mythology. Set in a New York City that is only on loan to the humans, every year the Seeker must find the object of power and return it to the Kurbs by December 21st, or the world will freeze. The object of power in this story is a subway token, something obsolete in this day and age, but a common and very appropriate object when the story was written. Found by an unsuspecting boy, who finds himself pursued by both good ...more
The bad guy is motivated by the creation of neon lights - what's not to like in such a peculiar bad guy? The simple B&W art is off-putting to my 9-year-old, but I like it. I engaged with the two children and the adult heroine, cringed away from the good guy/bad guy and hated the bad guy, all as it should be. The children, though, steal the story as self-sufficient and wholly-formed tweens. An enjoyable read.
This started a little clunky - I'm not sure where the "Kurbs" came from, but it sounds like "Kurdish" which made for some I'm assuming unintended associations. In the end the main story - young boy and girl work together to save her father and their city - was well done and the illustrations were beautifully executed, but with the slow start this won't be one of my favorites.
This is one of the better graphic novels I've read. I liked Avi's take on the seasons. I also enjoyed seeing the twin towers in the drawings as this book was published in 1993.

I'm not a huge fan of graphic novels, but I have many students who won't read anything else, so I am looking forward to taking this one to school. It has a bit of a superhero feel to the story.

In a mythical tale explaining the seasons and solstices in New York as a result of a pact between humans and the mysterious Kurbs, an object (in this case, a subway token) must be found and returned to the Kurbs by a certain date or the city will be plunged into perpetual winter. For years, a chain of women has performed this task, passing the secret from mother to daughter. Unfortunately, the current coin seeker, Asterel, must deal with Mr. Underton, who wants the energy of the coi
I chose this book by its cover because it seemed really interesting to read and also the title. The plot of the book is that two kids go on a adventure to one place to get a coin in order to keep New York City going. So they go and find the coin and give it to the owner of the World And they keep New York City with the humans not the Kurbs. My favorite quote is "Wait a minute. Wasn't that supposed to be a abandoned station". I like that quote because its like a line that is from like a movie, it ...more
I'm not a huge fan of graphic novels and I completely overlooked this one when it was first published. But I picked it up to decide whether or not to move it to the Graphic Novel section of the library and whether or not it should be in J or YA. And I have to say that I was impressed. It had a great plot, was well-written and the artwork was great. I could even tell the characters apart and read all of the words which doesn't always happen with some of the graphic novels I read. I liked the way ...more
Reenie Peppers
Themes: good vs evil, family dynamics, friendship, seeing things from a different perspective, responsibility
Activities: discuss/ research life in New York city, the subway system; writing prompts - what powers would you choose to have, describe your ideal place to live; group project to draw a city for a graphic novel
I want to give it 5 because the art is by Brian Floca who is our visiting author/illustrator this year. I just can't, though. Avi has never really appealed to me and this book hasn't won me over to his work. It makes me appreciate Floca's versatility, even more though, so I moved it from 3 to 4.
Oleg Kagan
The drama was clear in the art, but that couldn't save City of Light, City of Dark from simplistic characters and a hokey premise. In the story, A teenage girl must save the island of Manhattan from freezing by carrying out a mission to find a coin set forth by a mystical, age-old tribe. It's a weird overall plot punctuated by subplots in which the girl's father has a strange master-slave relationship with a power-hungry blind inventor (who somehow communicates with pigeons), and an strange mani ...more
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Avi is a pen name for Edward Irving Wortis, but he says, "The fact is, Avi is the only name I use."
Born in 1937, Avi has created many fictional favorites such as The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing but the Truth, and The Crispin series. His work is very much desired by readers young and old.
More about Avi...

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