People have always treated seventeen-year-old Mana as someone in need of protection. She's used to being coddled, being an only child, but it's hard tPeople have always treated seventeen-year-old Mana as someone in need of protection. She's used to being coddled, being an only child, but it's hard to imagine anything could ever happen in her small-town, normal life. As her mother's babying gets more stifling than ever, she's looking forward to cheering at the big game and getting out of the house for a while. But that night, Mana's life goes haywire. First, the hot guy she's been crushing on at school randomly flips out and starts spitting acid during the game. Then they get into a knockdown, drag-out fight in the locker room, during which Mana finds herself leaping around like a kangaroo on steroids. As a flyer on the cheerleading squad, she's always been a good jumper, but this is a bit much. By the time she gets home and finds her house trashed and an alien in the garage, Mana starts to wonder if her mother had her reasons for being overprotective. It turns out, Mana's frumpy, timid mom is actually an alien hunter, and now she's missing--taking a piece of technology with her that everyone wants their hands on, both human and alien. Now her supposed partner, a guy that Mana has never met or heard of (and who seems way too young and way too arrogant to be hunting aliens), has shown up, ordering Mana to come with him. Now, on her own for the first time, Mana will have to find a way to save her mother--and maybe the world--and hope she's up to the challenge.
Flying is an exciting and dangerous race to find the missing, to find the answers to Mana's sudden questions. Like where her mom is. Like why the guy she was crushing on can suddenly spit acid. Like what's happening to her.
Mana is snarky and quirky, a great friend and a great daughter. A little coddled by her over-protective but also supportive mom. Being kept from a number of things as she grew up, she's curious. Inquisitive. Maybe a little nosy. She refuses to back down when it comes to finding her mother, when it comes to finding out the truth. And when it turns out her mom is an alien hunter, that she works with this abrasive guy named China who's been sent to take Mana to their people in order to help them out? Mana's all in. Anything to save her mom. Which pushes her head-first into a fair amount of danger.
I would agree that this does read like Buffy meet Men in Black, a plucky, snarky cheerleader somehow falling in with aliens and alien hunters and plots to kill all humans. There were parts I found interesting, like the beginning when we're introduced to Mana, to her friends Lyle and Seppie. The moments of banter between Mana and China. It definitely felt a bit different than other books I've read recently. The stakes are high, the tension is building, but the repeated moments of adult characters refusing to explain anything to Mana near the beginning of the book slowed things down. The silence and runarounds only made Mana annoyed and angry and made me annoyed for her.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Macmillan thought Raincoast Books.)...more
Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. TGideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It's a distraction. It's pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn't know what to do. Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can't quite figure out what he did wrong.
Been Here All Along is a sweet, fast-paced story about friendships, relationships, changes, and being willing to trust those close to you with the truth, even when it descended into cliché and shallowness.
Gideon is the over-achiever, the super smart and super dedicated teen boy ready to take on the world and lead his peers as class president. He's a little awkward, he's a little short, and after some serious pondering and being honest with himself, he's nursing a major crush on his next-door neighbour and best friend. Now, how to hide it from everyone when he's a little obvious whenever he looks at him. Kyle is the sociable athlete with the cheerleader girlfriend, the sort of openly bisexual athlete. He's happy with Gideon at his side, with Ruby as his girlfriend, with basketball. But when there's a change in English teachers, things aren't as easy as they used to be. He's trying his hardest, putting in all the extra hours he can, but he's still not getting it. He needs Gideon to help him more than ever now, if things weren't a little awkward between them.
A fair amount of this book takes place in the high school both boys and Ruby attend, but it might as well be an empty building full of people. Days pass, time moves on, and there is character development, but I got nothing, felt nothing, from the setting. There was talk of classwork and teachers, a lot of Kyle's struggles center around school, but it was like a non-entity. Kyle is captain of the basketball team, but the important game was barely mentioned. Gideon wants to be class president, but where's all the planning and the campaigning?
This is a good book to pick up if you're looking for something quick, sweet, and a little silly. Gideon and Kyle are characters that are complicated when they're alone, supportive when they're together. There were some other characters, like Ruby, that felt like stereotypes and clichés, that felt flat and only there to serve a purpose as a vague nemesis/misunderstood character. A cute and fluffy book about two teen boys realizing they like each other more than friends, yes, but I was lost looking for something deeper.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They've managed to cast a spell over not just theEveryone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They've managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they're rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you're not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She's different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don't know is that River's presence in town is no accident.
The Graces is a complicated, haunting tale of wanting, mystery, and magic. Of searching for a place to belong and refusing to let go of it.
River, as she now calls herself, sees herself, is searching. She's lonely and lost, looking for friends. Looking for someone to care about her, support her, help her, and she knows the Graces can help her. How fascinating are they, with their auras and their attitudes, with their secrets and their customs. They just have to be witches, right? They just have to understand her, make her feel like she belongs.
I think this book nails a certain aspect some experience while a teen (that can also extend into adulthood), the aspect of being alone, of having no one close to you who you can lean on, and going out and finding that support. River is new to town, new to everything around her. She knows what's in her past, the secrets she keeps locked away deep inside, and when she looks at the Graces she sees people who might understand. People who can help her, who will support her and who she can support in turn. She's looking for a connection, for friendship. For love. And soon she gets what she wanted. But she hasn't taken into account the secrets the Graces are hiding. Or that her own secrets are far more dangerous.
I struggled to get into this. River sounded whiny, sounded childish. Maybe a little stuck-up. Definitely obsessive. Definitely repetitive. As the book went on I was curious as to what was going to happen, what magic there was. If it was real or if River was making it all up in her head. I was certainly surprised as the story progresses, as events unfolded and secrets were revealed, but there were moments when it dragged. It's like a darker version of the movie The Craft, if such a thing is possible, set in a small town somewhere in what I think is Great Britain. Knowing this is book 1 of a duology, I'm intrigued as to what will happen next, but I don't know if I'm desperate to know.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Amulet Books through NetGalley.)...more
Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books stoTrixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four. Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all. The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.
The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is full of snark, sci-fi pop culture references, clever banter, and a silly reason to hold a grudge for a decade. It's fun, clever, and has some great female friendships.
Trixie is all brains and sass and snark and attitude. She's sharp and determined, will support and defend best friends Harper and Meg with everything she has (because she knows they also have her back, even when they're acting weird), and she won't let anything go. Like getting her revenge on Ben West, even if the reason, which dates back to their elementary school days, seems childish. But Trixie can't let it go. They always clash, battling with quips and snide remarks. Because she can't let go of anything, like her revenge, like her friends, like her comics and her fandoms, she can come off as harsh and unfair. As too stubborn. But every character has flaws. It's her confronting them, coming face to face with them and learning from them, that makes her interesting as a character.
The sci-fi nerd in me loves the idea of this book, of teens reading comics and loving science fiction. There are lots of references to shows and comics like Doctor Who, Firefly, Buffy, Spider-Man, and Battlestar Galactica. I do wonder if some of these are a bit dated, some of these shows were on when I was in high school, but the internet doesn't like letting things fall into the ether of the forgotten. Some shows, like Doctor Who or Buffy, are timeless. I also love that this is a modern retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Knowing the play means knowing how the characters will progress so I knew how it would all end, but it was still fun to read. Fun to see how everything would happen in a modern setting.
I had so much fun reading this. Every time a TV or comic reference came up that I knew I would chuckle and keep on reading, waiting for the next one. As a fan of certain sci-fi shows and certain comics (like Saga), this was the book for me. This is the book I wish I could hand to teenage me to have fun with. This is all kinds of geek fun and supportive female friendships. A must-read for self-proclaimed geeks.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she's always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means shAll Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she's always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she's trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she's not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth—that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she'll have to man up.
Girl Mans Up is an eye-opening look at gender, sexuality, relationships, and family. Those moments when we're trying to figure ourselves out, struggling to find all the answers, and trying to understand when people want impossible things from us.
Pen is smart and kind, she's great at video games, but she's struggling to come to terms with a number of things. With the things Colby asks of her, how he uses her to pick of girls and also to keep them away after he breaks up with them. With the things her mother demands of her, like learning how to cook Portuguese dishes and wearing nice dresses instead of jeans and baggy shirts like her brother wears. She sort of knows who she is, who she wants to be. She likes girls, wants to date girls, and she wants the freedom to dress comfortably. As she does this, as she starts to be the Pen she's always wanted to be, she bumps up against the walls of expectation.
The idea of family and loyalty runs strong in this book. The different things, the different people, we give our time to, that we believe in and give our trust to. But what about when giving that time and respect hurts you? What about when you find that it's not worth it anymore? When you're being crushed under the weight of loyalty and respect, physically and mentally? Pen is grasping for solutions, wanting everyone to stop yelling, her mother to stop crying, her friends to stop teasing. She she wants the chance to be who she is. A girl who likes girls, who wants to date girls. A girl who wants to wear jeans and baggy clothes and have short hair. As time goes on, Pen finds it harder to respect those who demand it from her. And why should she, when they don't respect her in return?
This book was a little hard to take, but still necessary. Sometimes friendships are toxic but they're hard to escape. Sometimes familial relationships cause us pain and stress but we can't leave. Sometimes people try to change us, try to force us into being someone we don't want to be, but we're still not sure who we want to be. This story is a harsh one, a rough and honest one. A look at identity and accepting that being honest with ourselves, with who we want to be, isn't always the same as what others want from us. Which is perfectly fine. We don't exist to serve the whims of others, to bow down to their demands and hide our true selves. Our identities are our own, and no one can tell us who we should be.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from HarperCollins Canada.)...more
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should bEighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident... wasn't an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
With Malice is tense, a book of hidden memories, of stories and rumour. Of assuming the worst and hoping for the best. Of never being sure what's true and what isn't.
Jill wakes up lost, confused, in pain. She's wondering why she's in the hospital, where her memories of the last six weeks have gone,where her best friend is. If she's the reason why Simone is dead. Jill is floundering is a sea of doctors, headaches, amnesia, and a number of people who think they know better. People like Jill's dad, like Jill's lawyer, like the hundreds of faceless Internet trolls who think Jillhad something to do with Simone's death. All Jill wants are answers and for someone to tell her what happened, what's going on, but they can't. No one really knows what happened.
There are many sides to a story, to an event, shown by the snippits of police interviews and revealed text messages. It's hard to know if Jill and Simone were still close friends, if they were fighting, if they were friendly, if they were cold and aloof. If Jill was excited about university in the fall, if she wanted to run away. If Simone was excited for Jill, if she was jealous, if Jill was the jealous one. Everyone saw something different. Only two people know the truth. One of them is dead and the other can't remember what happened.
I think this book says a fair amount about how we judge people when we don't know all the facts, about how we assume the worst and them proceed to smear them with even more dirt and mud. How we assume the worst when the accused is a woman, how the media is quick to pain women as treacherous and plotting while men are expected to screw up every now and then. Because of the change in how most get their news and the rise of social media, more and more people are tried in the court of public opinion. In the court of the Internet, where anyone can give an opinion on something they no nothing about. It also reminded me of the Amanda Knox trial (which I do suggest you look up if you don't know much about it/haven't heard of it). I think thriller fans and mystery fans will love this.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school's ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them. Only one thing stands between them and their perMaria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school's ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them. Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily's whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word. But what Delilah doesn't know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily. Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what's real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
As I Descended is haunting, secretive, and atmospheric. Here are the many sides, the many faces of teens under pressure, haunted by their pasts and their futures, and how far they'll go to get what they want.
Maria is calm and collected on the surface, secretive and cautious down below. She's not about to rock the boat, to up end everything and everyone's hard work. She's fine staying back from the front, steering clear of the ghosts in her past. But they're always there. Haunting her. Following her. Calling to her, telling her they can help her, that she knows what she must do. But sometimes the ghosts aren't the ghosts she knows.
Lily is worried, near panic. She can't lose Maria, not as a girlfriend or as support. She can't lose everything they've worked toward, and she can't stand to see Delilah win everything as she lies and manipulates her way to the top. Not after Delilah hurt her so badly. Lily has a plan to keep her and Maria together, a plan that Maria has to follow through with. Lily pokes and prods, nudges at her to finally do something, and discovers she has to be the strong, ruthless one if they want to succeed.
This is a retelling of one of Shakespeare's classics, a tale of guilt and ghosts, of hatred and revenge and competition. What better place to set it than a high school, than a Southern boarding school full to the brim with geniuses, overachievers, and entitled white teens. What better setting than a former plantation marked by slavers and some rather suspicious and horrific deaths in its past.
In order to properly nail a revenge story, all the characters need agency. They need actual, credible reasons for doing what they do, for acting in order to ruin someone else's life. And all the characters here have that agency. This retelling was creepy. It was easy enough, as I read it, to picture myself on the grounds of the school, watching from the sidelines as events unfolded. As the first one fell. As the next one died. As the ghosts rose up. A must-read.
(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)...more
10:00 a.m.: The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouragi10:00 a.m.: The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02 a.m.: The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03: The auditorium doors won't open. 10:05: Someone starts shooting. Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
This Is Where It Ends is tense, explosive, shocking, and heartbreaking.
The way this book is written is striking. The reader is shot between different points of view, inside the auditorium, outside, way from the school, and back in so fast it's like time isn't passing. Because it isn't, not quite. So many things happen during these 54 minutes. So many thoughts, worries, fears, tears, hopes. So many tears cried. So few words spoken aloud for fear of being the next victim. For not wanting any of it to be true. But it is. We only get glimpses of the characters, who they are in those moments and what they're thinking about, who they're worried about. That's all we get. Which is okay for me. That's what I expected. Of course, I do still wonder what might've happened next, what questions would've been asked in the days to come. Who would've survived and who would've been lost, physically or mentally.
It's very likely that this is the most frightening book I've read in the last few years. It comes from the news events of the last few years, the increase in gun violence, the immediacy that social media has brought to events like shootings and riots and press conferences. This story feels so honest, so real. And it's sad that I'm not surprised by how real it feels. How easy it was to believe that, yes, this could absolutely be a real shooting at a read high school in America. That is what scares me.
It's hard to talk about this book objectively. I think it's safe to say that this isn't the kind of book I generally read, a hard-hitting, realistic YA. Did I like it? I'm not sure. Would I recommend it? Yes. This book is sad and surprising and full of terror and fear, but it's one of those frighteningly honest stories that I think people should read.
(I received an e-galley of this title from Sourcebooks through NetGalley.)...more
The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a ConnecThe last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that's not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective's enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who's inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there's a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they're being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.
A Study in Charlotte is a rich mystery that brings the skill of Holmes and the humanity of Watson to the modern world in an uptight prep school setting.
Jamie. Or Watson, as Holmes often calls him. He's a little fanciful, a little lonely. He's looking for something. What he finds is Charlotte Holmes, a curious girl who investigates crimes, speaks rather matter-of-factly, and throws herself headfirst into dangerous situations. Before they meet, Jamie sees her as something magical, something impossible but real, considering the number of newspaper articles with her name in them. He once pictured them on adventures, just like the Holmes and Watson of old. But then he meets her, then he talks to her, then he learns about her vices (hardcore drugs) and her family situation (sending her off to America for school) and her secrets, and he realizes that she might actually be human. Even with the excellent deductive reasoning and the plots and plans. As Charlotte is only ever shown through Jamie's eyes, the reader only sees so much. Which is probably for the best.
The mystery. The clues. The investigation. It was all interesting, at times quick and others slow. The ways in which things happen as time goes by. The moments of discovery interspersed with moments of insanity, of lucidity, of boredom, of anger and arguing, and of melancholic musing. The plot and the rising tension worked well together, the mystery uncovered piece by piece until the exciting end.
I was interested in the story, in the mystery and the investigation of who the killer was. In the growing relationship between Watson and Holmes. It's hard to like Holmes, as it often it when the character appears in literature and on screen. Holmes can be hard, harsh, unfeeling, and a drug addict, which is how Holmes is here. As smart and as investigative as she is, she has her vices and her stubborn qualities. I would definitely suggest that Holmes fans and mystery fans check this book out.
(I received an advance copy of this title from another blogger/reviewer.)...more
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she's a criminal. No, she's a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magicSixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she's a criminal. No, she's a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams. Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother's infamy is hard enough, not to mention the crazy events of the past year. Dusty may have saved the day, but there are many days left in the year, and with an old foe back to seek revenge, she'll need all her strength to defeat him and save her friends.
The Nightmare Charade is more danger, more intrigue and hidden things, more secrets and lies. And the final reveal.
Dusty is back to investigating after a summer away from Arkwell. There are so many things on her plate this time around that I'm surprised she has time to sleep. So much of her days are spent worrying and wondering. Worrying about her mother, about Marrow, about finding time to be with Eli like a proper couple, about school. She's not given much time to get back into the swing of things. Instead, she and Eli are tossed head-first and nearly blind into a rather dangerous situation and are expected to solve it quickly. Her snark is still there, her word battles with people who bother her, but her worry and concern take over from time to time.
I was surprised at how easy it was to distrust most of the adults in this book, people like Lady Elaine and Detective Valentine. So few people are straight and honest with Dusty, so few tell her what needs to be said, give her access to the knowledge she needs to make sure she stays alive. How can they tell her that something isn't important, that she shouldn't worry about it? In this situation, everything is important. It's all extremely suspicious, not to mention frustrating.
There's a lot of emphasis on death this time around, particularly Dusty's. The book screams the massive possibility that she might not make it out alive this time. As it's the conclusion of the trilogy, I went in expecting some big reveals and some bigger battles, and with how the ending went, that's pretty much what I found. Nothing was easy for Dusty, or Eli, or even Selene or Dusty's mom, but that's good. There has to be consequences, even when it's magic. Sometimes the worst consequences happen when the battles are full of magic. The second book felt like it stuttered when it came to including the romance, which I felt was better balanced with the mystery and danger this time, but overall I enjoyed the series.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
At the beginning of the term, Olive Silverlock returned to Gotham Academy a shadow of her former self. But thanks to her new friendships and their DetAt the beginning of the term, Olive Silverlock returned to Gotham Academy a shadow of her former self. But thanks to her new friendships and their Detective Club sleuthing, Olive was finally starting to feel whole again. But now, Olive is seeing ghosts. A spectral, robed figure is haunting the Academy, and haunting Olive in particular, appearing to her and giving sinister instructions. Could this spirit be the key to unlocking the secrets of her family's dark past? Or is Olive simply losing her grip on reality? Plus, the kids hunt a werewolf on campus and Maps teams up with the Academy's newest transfer, Damian Wayne!
Gotham Academy Volume 2 is again full of mystery, investigation, danger, and supportive friendships. Olive's sorrow hangs over the school like a cloud full of rain, but she and Maps are still searching. Still hoping to find out more about Olive's mother and the secrets hiding in the walls.
Olive and Maps are back. Back to being awesome friends that work with each other, back to searching out the secrets of Gotham Academy. The secrets in Olive's past. Things are a little more serious now. We start to see the reason why Olive's mother was locked away in Arkham, the reason why Olive was sent to Gotham Academy. Her loneliness, listlessness, and desperation are quite clear. As sad as she is, she's desperate to know why, know who, and know what comes next. Maps, as always, is supportive, but she can't escape sticking her nose into secret things. Into Batman-related things. Into kick-ass sidekick things.
As with Volume 1, I love the artwork and the colouring. The clean, thin lines. The fury in Olive's eyes in the cover art. The bright pop of Maps' yellow raincoat in a dark, dreary, rainy scene. The sweet, round faces found in the first 'chapter' of this volume, the adorable artwork done by Mingjue Helen Chen.
After Volume 1, I had high hopes for this series. I was hoping what I found would continue. That the Pizza Club would keep on searching out and hunting down the Academy's secrets and mysteries. That the reason behind Olive's distant summer would come to light. In some ways, that is what's happened. It goes deeper into what pushes Olive, what motivates her and what scares her. But that's as deep as it goes. I was hoping for more about the school and its students. More diverse representation. Some LGBTQ characters.
I do wonder if I'm at some kind of crossroads with this series, if I'm waiting for a story that's being held back because of the pacing and release schedule of comics. Volume 2 is good. It picks up where Volume 1 left off and gets into some dark, dangerous things. I suppose I thought there would be more. Still, I am curious as to where the series will go as a whole. What Olive will do with this new family knowledge. Where Maps will go in her quest to learn every secret thing about Gotham Academy.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from DC Comics through NetGalley.)...more
Stella Cross's heart is poisoned. After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday.Stella Cross's heart is poisoned. After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive. Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone's radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable. Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart? After all, the heart never lies...does it?
Alive is dark, tense, and mysterious. What are the secrets of the heart? It pumps blood through our veins and arteries, it keeps us alive. But can it do other things? Can it connect us to other people? Can it be controlled by someone else?
Stella has come back from the brink, back from the edge of living or dying. Saved by a heart transplant, she now has to return to high school, return to what should be her normal life, the life before her illness. But her parents are worrying that she's not going to get into university, she's behind on homework, and her friends feel just a bit different than when she last saw them. Then the hallucinations hit, the sudden and intense chest pains, and she knows that something must be wrong. But it's all in her head, yes? Her body can't be rejecting the heart. Is it something else?
Now, when a hot new guy appears just days after Stella goes back to school with her new heart, I was instantly suspicious. Maybe I've read too much and am just suspicious of any new character or plot twist, but I was wary of Levi. Even at the beginning when things were going okay. I understand Stella's feelings. He's nice, smart, he's quick to learn more about her, spend time with her. Love, teen love, puppy love, it does things to you. It causes your heart rate to climb, your blood to throb and pulse under your skin harder and faster than normal. In some ways it makes sense for Stella to equate her weird feelings to being in love with Levi. But the hallucinations? The lingering pain? Not so much.
I did like Stella's friendships with Henry and Brynn. They got along and argued like real friends, back and forth, calling each other out on their crap. Feelings were hurt, apologies were made. Hanging out together was enjoyed. I liked that they stuck with her, that they weren't about to give up on Stella. Even when she was way too obsessed with Levi.
While I wasn't the biggest fan of Stella and Levi's relationship and how creepy it gets, I found the mystery of Stella's hallucinations and chest pain to be interesting. Why always at the same time of day? Why the hallucinations of blood and death? Where did Levi come from? It took a little while, and I never liked how obsessive or controlling the relationship got, but in the end I found this to be a rather intriguing mystery with a hint of the paranormal. If you're looking for something like that, then maybe give this a read.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)...more
Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooWelcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits... Okay, so Gotham Academy isn't like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn't like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she's back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude... and an unexplained fear of bats. Olive's supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Mags is kid sister of Kyle, Olive's sort of ex. Then there's the ghost haunting the campus, the secret society conducting bizarre rituals, and Bruce Wayne, the weirdo billionaire who funds the Academy-and may know the secret to Olive's big mystery. Can Olive and Maps ace the biggest challenge of their lives? Or are they about to get schooled?
Gotham Academy Volume 1, filled with mystery and drama, is a fresh and new story in an already well-established comic universe.
There's a little bit of an ensemble cast going on, the same reoccurring characters popping up, but if there had to be a main character it would be Olive Silverlock. It's her second year at Gotham Academy but things aren't going so well. Olive is filled with questions because she's not quite sure what happened to her over the summer. Why did she end up spending the summer alone? Why is she so angry now? Thankfully, she's joined almost at the hip to Mia "Maps" Mizoguchi, the most excitable, nerdy freshman who also happens to be her sort-of boyfriend Kyle's sister. Their friendship is everything. It's all about their interactions, how they don't always agree and make compromises when it comes to investigating the secrets of Gotham Academy.
The artwork is awesome. The academy comes across as atmospheric, all the details of the stone towers and the interior wood paneling. And the different facial expressions. Olive's determined face, Maps' big grin, Pomeline's sneer, Kyle's confusion. There seems to be a faint dark wash over everything, giving the comic a dark tone, but it works. This is the start of something new, this is when the start of more than a few mysteries are discovered, when all the sneaking about under cover of night starts. It'll take time before everything is brought into the light. Plus there's Maps being all big smiles and excitement, ready to brighten up the day with her lime green backpack.
When it comes to diversity it seems to be there. An even balance of female and male named characters with more emphasis on Olive and Maps. The characters are racially diverse. There are a couple of mentions made to Olive not having much money, her being on scholarship and not having a cellphone, but it still feels like a rich kids' school. And I really hope that there will be some LGBTQIA characters appearing in the future.
Now, don't worry, you don't need to be well-versed in the DC/Batman universe before picking this up. It's a good intro to the universe but it stands alone. There are the standard references to certain characters and places, like a mysterious asylum, but feel free to just jump in. It's meant for all ages, there's nothing too graphic when it comes to violence or language, but remember that the characters are all teenagers. At its heart, it seems to be a fun and mystery-heavy boarding school drama with a complicated, flawed heroine searching for answers and her sidekick full of joy and tricks ready at her side.
I've been reading the single issues and I'm really curious as to what will come next. What's going on with Olive's mom? What's going on with Olive? What's this new kid doing there? Complicated characters, lots of mysteries to uncover, a supportive female friendship. If you're new to comics or an avid reader, you might want to give this a read.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from DC Comics through NetGalley. I also purchase the single issues from my local comic book store.)...more