For the Love of YA

Risha Mullins is a “self-proclaimed critic of Young Adult literature, a National Board Certified English teacher, an AP Language and Composition teacher, and an aspiring author.” You may know her name from some of my posts from last year (What do you think and UPDATE: YA in the classroom). And now Risha is blogging!

She’s at For the Love of YA, offering author interviews and reviews. She recently interviewed David Macinnis Gill; my favorite part is Gill discussing  Soul Enchilada and censorship: “Soul Enchilada faced censorship before it was published. When ARCs went out, I started getting emails from librarians who enjoyed it but knew they couldn’t order for their conservation communities (the book is far more popular in the West, while southern libraries seem not to stock it). I also received some testy emails from older readers who complained that my bored, corporate devil wasn’t evil enough. Also, there were many letters criticizing me for writing in the voice of a minority teen, since I;m a middle-aged white guy. That disappoints me because one of the themes of Soul was to judge people for who they are, not for what they look like. Honestly, I’ve been through so many censorship cases as an advocate for teens and teachers that I’m looking forward to a true book banning, rather than the self-censorship we’ve seen so far.”

Mullins on Soul Enchilada: ” In addition to the engaging plot, Gill gives his readership a unique protagonist (Hispanic and African-American) with attitude and spunk, the rich smells and tastes of a Hispanic subculture of El Paso, and some insight into a celebration—Dia de los Muertos—that is often misunderstood or underrepresented by American culture. Even if the plot didn’t keep us guessing and reading, the inclusion of this amazing culture would have done the trick.”

My review of Soul Enchilada.

Review: The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork. Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. 2010. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Pancho Sanchez, seventeen, ends up at St. Anthony’s Home after he is left alone. His mother died when he was young; his father was killed in a work accident; and then his sister, Rosa, twenty (but mentally more like a ten year old) was found dead. Pancho got kicked out of his temporary foster home placement for breaking a kid’s jaw. St. Anthony’s is the last stop before juvenile detention.

Daniel Quentin, or DQ, is also at St. Anthony’s, abandoned by his mother when he was ten. Now, seven years later, DQ has a tumor that is killing him slowly. His mother wants back in his life to dictate DQ’s treatment.

DQ wants to live, and die, on his own terms. He wants to make his own decisions. He creates the Death Warrior Manifesto and drags a reluctant Pancho into his vision of how a person should live. Pancho goes along with it for his own reasons that have nothing to do with DQ or his Manifesto. Pancho’s reason? His sister didn’t just die. She was murdered. Hanging out with DQ, accompanying DQ on DQ’s tumor treatments, will give Pancho the freedom from St. Anthony’s to find out who killed his sister. And to kill him.

The Good: You know, since this is the second book I’ve read based on/ inspired by Don Quixote, I probably should read the original. Or, at least, get Man of La Mancha from Netflix. (The other? Libba Bray’s Going Bovine).

Stork, author of last year’s Marcelo in the Real World, delivers another book with a diverse cast of characters. Pancho and his family are Mexican-American, as is Marisol, a teen health care volunteer; DQ and his family are white; Pancho’s sister is developmentally disabled; DQ’s mother is bipolar; DQ and other characters have cancer, and sometimes that has a physical impact. DQ, for example, is usually in a wheelchair.

Rosa’s family never treated her differently because of her disability. For the three months after their father died, the two Sanchez siblings were left alone by social services. Rosa had a job, waitressing, and was making money. Pancho discovers that while Rosa’s mind was that of a child, she was not a child, and had age-typical interest in boys. Pancho quickly realizes that Rosa is dead because someone took advantage of that.

Pancho wants to avenge his sister; he doesn’t see a life beyond that, nor does he want one. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is Pancho realizing, through his friendship with first DQ and then Marisol, that he has options. What choice will he make?

DQ is treated with conventional medicine, standard and experimental, as well as Johnny Corazon, a “shaman” or “healer”. I was a bit hesitant about the shaman / healer aspect. Would this be “think healthy thoughts and you will be healthy!” (with the implicit counter message, you’re sick because you didn’t think the right things). Would it be taking a new agey type of portrayal, with (mis)use of such healing? The book took neither approach; DQ’s treatment combines both elements and Corazon isn’t a new age type. DQ wants neither treatment; even the medical approach is experimental. He goes along with it because he is still a minor and hopes that agreeing to do submit to treatments for a month means that his mother will allow him to make future health choices on his own — including the choice to stop treatment. One thing I like that Stork does is first, it appears that the “faith healer” may be preying on people, taking advantage of the rich white woman (DQ’s mother) who is looking for answers anywhere, including rocks and herbs.  At least, that is Pancho’s belief. To Pancho’s surprise (and mine!) it turns out that Johnny Corazon has a certificate in holistic medicine and there is more substance to him and what he does. I really cannot comment much more on the shaman aspect; via Twitter, Debbie Reese recommended Lisa Aldred’s PLASTIC SHAMANS AND ASTROTURF DANCES: NEW AGE COMMERCIALIZATION OF NATIVE AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY for those interested in knowing more.

I have to confess, I’m not a fan of “dying teen teaches others to live,” in either books or movies. Luckily, this is not that type of book. Yes, DQ is dying. Yes, his friendship with Pancho helps Pancho to get over the grief of losing his family and consider the possibility of life and love. Pancho has always been a fighter. Literally, his father taught him to box and he continues to practice at St. Anthony’s and to find mental calmness through physical activity. This makes his pairing with DQ all the more eloquent, in that DQ’s cancer physically weakens him to the point that merely walking is exhausting. DQ overthinks; Pancho doesn’t dwell on things. Together, they balance each other.

DQ is more than just a dying teen; he is trying to make sense of his place in life. He was hurt by his mother’s abandonment, and while we never learn whether he knows she is bipolar, considering everyone else does he has to realize that her leaving him at St. Anthony’s was not a selfish abandonment. At that time, his mother just could not take care of him. If Pancho’s internal journey is to let the dead bury the dead, DQ’s is to accept people as they are, including his mother. Part of that is realizing that “accepting” does not mean “agreeing with” or even “living with.” Pancho, too, has to learn about acceptance and forgiveness and the impact it has on the person doing the accepting and forgiving.

Review: Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. Candlewick. 2010. Gift.

The Plot: When Finnikin was nine, the world as he knew it ended. The royal family of Lumatere, murdered; his father, the head of the King’s Guard, jailed; chaos, murder, betrayal, and curses resulted in half of the kingdom of Lumatere in exile and half trapped in the kingdom itself.

For ten years, Finnikin has dedicated himself to the exiles of Lumatere. He sees his people struggle in refuge camps, forgetting their language, struck down by disease, homeless, murdered.

A whisper of a rumor is heard: one of the royal family survived. Prince Balthazar, Finnikin’s childhood friend. There have been rumors before, of course, of Balthazar’s escape, because his body wasn’t found after the slaughter of his sisters and parents. Evanjalin, another teenage refugee, has the gift of walking through other’s sleep. She can find Balthazar, she is certain, she can find the lost heir, lead him to the gates of Lumatere, break the curse that traps half their people outside the kingdom, half inside. All she needs is Finnikin, and for him to trust her. In ten years of exile, Finnikin has learned to trust only himself. Together, can they save their people?

The Good: I love this book so much that I stayed up till four in the morning reading it.

I love this book so much that I am now torn between two book boyfriends (Eugenides and Finnikin), feeling like a fool, loving them both is breaking all the rules.

The reader is thrust into Finnikin’s world, and it takes a while to find one’s footing. To understand what has happened in Lumatere, to comprehend the horror of exile, to appreciate what Finnikin has sacrificed and accomplished in ten years. The reader is playing catch up in Finnikin’s world — much as the exiles have done and continue to do so, in the world outside of Lumatere.

The exiles; their experiences are as varied as the people. Finnikin was apprenticed to Sir Topher, loyal to Lumatere and to Finnikin’s father, Trevanion. Sir Topher is driven to take care of the exiles, find a solution, and to educate Finnikin. Ironically, had Finnikin remained in Lumatere, Finnikin would have been raised to be his father’s son: a member of the King’s Guard. Raised outside the kingdom walls, Finnikin has been given an almost royal education, in languages, politics, and fighting styles beyond that of his native country. He is caught up, heart and soul, in Sir Topher’s mission to care for the people.

Finnikin had given up hope of returning to Lumatere, focusing instead on life outside. Better to deal with the reality of today than waste time dreaming of home. With the appearance of Evanjalin, hope appears. Evanjalin, an exile, has survived the worst of exile life: massacre and slavery. Yet she still has hope. She still has faith. She believes. Evanjalin wants Finnikin to have hope. She doesn’t defer to Finnikin; she challenges him, she ignores him, she pushes him.

Marchetta has created a complex and often dark world. The stakes are high; people are tortured, raped, murdered. The worst happens. It isn’t sugarcoated and light. It is harsh and brutal. And yet — love survives, and life, and happiness, and even hope. It isn’t easy. But then, life isn’t. The worst happens and the world doesn’t end. People go on.

I love, love, love Finnikin. I love him because he is a true, good, person, stronger and better than he may realize. I love, love, love Evanjalin because she is driven and has a mission and, like Finnikin, is a true, good, person. And I love, love, love how Finnikin and Evanjalin begin to see each other as friends and then something more. And I love, love, love Finnkin of the Rock because it is about these two wonderful people.

What else? There is adventure! One cannot simply go up to the gates and say “go away curse! open up!”. And once the gates are open, what then? People are needed. An army is needed. What Finnikin has to do to put all the pieces in place…. fights and battles and escapes. There are politics aplenty, from who killed the royal family and why to how the sudden loss of one kingdom impacts the other kingdoms in this land. There is also a haunting picture of the immigrant experience, as we see how unwelcome the exiles are made.

Finnikin of the Rock is a standalone book. Marchetta’s universe and supporting cast of characters is so engaging that I’m left wanting more. Lucky for me, and you, Marchetta is working on a sequel!

Part of the joy of today’s young adult fiction is that many of the titles can be enjoyed by adults. Finnikin is nineteen, and any reader will enjoy the story of restoring a kingdom.

Is this a Favorite Book Read in 2010? YES!!!!! I so adore Finnikin, and his relationship with Evanjalin, and Evanjalin’s strength. I love that I feel as if I knew Lumatere, knew the hills and mountains. And I love that cried for the last fifty pages of the book.

Oh, before I forget, the two covers. The top one is the US edition; the bottom, the UK edition. Which do you like better?

Review: The Beautiful Between

The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel. Knopf, an imprint of Random House. 2010.

The Plot: Connelly Sternin, a junior, looks around her high school and sees it, her life, as a fairy tale. Connelly is Rapunzel, living in a Manhattan high rise, hiding behind studying and SAT Prep. She keeps herself isolated, not just because she is absorbed in studies, but also because she has created a barrier, a lie. The school thinks her parents are divorced and her absent father lives in Arizona. Instead, he is dead. Connelly was two at the time and doesn’t even know how he died.

 Jeremy Cole is the crown prince, rich, athletic, popular. One day he sits at her lunch table, talks to her, asks to study with her. Why has the prince noticed a commoner? It turns out Connelly and Jeremy have something in common. Jeremy’s life isn’t so perfect.

Slowly, a friendship develops. But can Rapunzel  leave the safety of her tower?

The Good:  The Beautiful Between? Try The Beautifully Written Book I Am In Awe Of.

In the best possible way, The Beautiful Between is a quiet book. Connelly is friendly but without friends. Then Jeremy sits down. At her table.

It feels like the chatter in the cafeteria has gone quiet and everyone is listening to us. Which, by the way, isn’t entirely beyond reality, because people are always watching Jeremy Cole. . . . “Sternin, really.” And I melt because he’s calling me Sternin again. His hand on my arm doesn’t hurt his case either. I can actually feel the little hairs tingling.

Yes, she has a bit of a crush on Jeremy but who wouldn’t? He’s handsome, smart, funny, nice.  He could have anything. Why is he approaching her? He says, “I’ll tutor you in physics, you help me with SAT vocabulary,” but c’mon! His family could afford an army of tutors. Since he could have any girl he wants, there is no reason for Jeremy to make up a reason to talk to a girl.

Turns out, there is a reason Jeremy is reaching out to Connelly. And it’s not help with his vocabulary. Instead, he thinks Connelly can help him with something. In reaching out to Connelly, he unintentionally rips a scab off a long ago wound.

I don’t want to go spoilery about why Jeremy reaches out to Connelly; in a way, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Jeremy and Connelly develop a beautiful, real, true friendship. They become each other’s best friend; and it’s a friendship that develops not from a Grand Movie Experience, but from the small building blocks of friendship: talk, spending time together, being accepting, helping, knowing when to be quiet and when to speak up. And forgiving when a person doesn’t. In this way, it’s a quiet book. No vampires. No road trips. No ghosts.

This is Connelly’s story, and her layers and hurt she cannot name are poignantly drawn. Jeremy is shown through her eyes; he is and remains a crown prince. So softly that it’s almost impossible to pinpoint, their relationship shifts from acquaintances to friends.

Part of what I loved about Sheinmel’s writing – other than the writing and the characters – is she doesn’t tell everything. Some things remain unknown. It’s real, yet also risky, because some readers demand full answers.

What else? I love that Jeremy and Connelly bond over smoking! Talk about the last taboo in young adult literature! Such a wonderful detail –and so revealing of Jeremy’s personality, and Connelly’s character, and really nothing else could substitute for it. Another thing. Confession: I can get really annoyed at rich kids in books. No, really! I sometimes think “oh, get a real problem, Ritchie Rich!” Not once did I think that, ever, even as Connelly’s mother lived comfortably without ever working, or Jeremy’s family out-trumped the Trumps.

Another thing! Jeremy and Connelly are Jewish. The book isn’t about being Jewish; it’s not something that would catch the eye of any cataloguer. It’s for those readers who are looking for books where the teens just happen to be Jewish, in the same casual, comfortable way that so many books have people who just happen to be Christian.

Because weeks after I read it, I was still haunted by Connelly, Jeremy, and Sheinmel’s writing, this becomes a Favorite Book Read in 2010.

Review: You

You by Charles Benoit. Harper Teen. 2010. Reviewed from ARC from publisher

The Plot: You.

The Good: You are you. You are Kyle Chase.

OK, enough of writing in the style of You!

Told in second person, Benoit pulls you into the story, makes the story about you and your choices and your friendships. Your slacking off (why?) in middle school, so you didn’t go to High School with your friends from the gifted program, and you began hanging out with the hoodies and drinking and getting Cs and you liked Ashley but couldn’t tell her and now you’re standing there, with shattered glass and blood and screaming won’t help because it’s already too late and how did you get here?

Some people say the teen books that scare the hell out of them as parents are the books where bad things happen to teens.  Me, – while not a parent, I’m an aunt, and a friend of many a parent – I am scared by the books about kids who get lost. Not literally, but figuratively.

Like Kyle, lost without any real reason. In the first chapter, with the blood and knowing it is already too late, Kyle thinks, “You’re just a kid. It can’t be your fault. But then there’s all that blood. So, maybe it is your fault, but that doesn’t make things any better. And it doesn’t matter one way or the other. Think. When did it go wrong?” When did it go wrong? Is it one thing, the sum of many things, or nothing at all? What were Kyle’s choices that led him here? You takes you along on Kyle’s journey. It’s not just Kyle’s journey. It’s yours. What choices have led you to where you are now? Can you change where you are at?

You provides a –well, a villain, of sorts. I won’t tell you who, among Kyle’s friends, family, and acquaintances, is the bad guy. Maybe it’s Kyle. Maybe it’s you. But it is chilling – and honest – and truthful. Because sometimes, motivation for action is not that someone wants to do good or to do bad. Sometimes, the motivation is just that they can. So they do. And that is also scary. A person who pulls a string for no reason other than to see what happens. Or, because the person knows what will happen and does it anyway, to see if people are really that predictable. So a person takes an action, suggests, hints, and does it something simply to get a reaction. It is so much softer and more potent than simply manipulation. And being that person, that puppet master. That, too, is a choice, a result of choices.

Vintage is Fancy Talk for Old

This past ALA was my first time attending the Newbery Award Banquet — and I even made it to On the Red Carpet at ALA with Kristin Clark Venuti and Jim Averbeck!

I appear in the Fashion Statement segment.

“Vintage” means it’s last year’s dress and I wore it last year’s Printz Award Reception.

Check out all the videos at On the Red Carpet; everything from Newbery fashion to new books to games!

Review: Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Little, Brown. 2010. Reviewed from ARC from publisher.

The Plot: In a future America, teenage Nailer works light crew with other teens, scavenging the parts of rusted-out, abandoned ships that only those small and thin enough can get into. If Nailer is lucky, he will bulk up enough to qualify for the heavy crews that strip the ships. If he is really lucky, he will discover a “lucky strike” that will let him buy his way out of the endless cycle of poverty, work, and brutality that is life on the Gulf Coast.

A hurricane hits and Nailer gets lucky. A luxury clipper ship wrecked. Scavenging this would bring him riches, if he can keep it secret long enough. Only problem is, there is a survivor, a teenage girl, a rich, spoiled “swank.” Rescuing her could mean losing his “lucky strike” — or could be an even luckier strike, if the reward for finding her and keeping her safe is high enough. To “keep her safe” he’ll have to out smart or out fight the desperate people who want to loot the ship, all of them bigger, stronger, and better armed than him. He’ll have to go against the blood oaths he swore with his light crew friends. And scariest of all, he’ll have to confront his father, Richard Lopez, a man whose days are passed in drug-fueled highs and violent fights to the death.

The Good: Bacigalupi’s vision of a post-fossil fuel world offers a look at a “what might be” as well as “what is today.” This is true science fiction. There is no magic, just an imagined scientific future. Coal and oil burning ships are replaced with clipper ships that use high-altitude parasails to harness the jet stream to sail. And wow, talk about “reuse, repair, recycle” in action. The old wrecks of ships are stripped down until nothing is left, each staple, each wire reused. Problem is, the recycling going on is not a clean yuppie version, it’s a dirty, backbreaking, health-killing process that is carried out by the poorest of the poor. I read about ship breaking (taking apart a ship to use its parts) thinking, “wow, Bacigalupi has some imagination!” Then I checked out the book website and saw the report on modern day ship breaking in Bangladesh.

Nailer’s view of the world is limited by his class,  his poverty, his geography. He cannot read or write; his knowledge of history, the past, the present, is all based on oral stories. Nita, the “Lucky Girl” he rescues, is rich and educated. Both teens are smart; Nailer is smart enough to want to escape his circumstances, Nita is smart enough to figure out how to adapt to her new circumstances. Bacigalupi weaves their stories and knowledge in such a way that no infodump ever occurs. The book starts with Nailer deep in the ducts of a ship, an action filled beginning that includes Nailer almost getting lost and trapped in the maze of the inside of the dead ship. The reader is quickly brought up to speed with what Nailer is doing, the economics of it, the blood oaths that crew members take and just how important that loyalty is to everyday survival and what it means to betray it. Later on, the contrast between Nita’s and Nailer’s lives and experiences provides more information to the reader, via conversation. The reader learns more as Nailer learns more. It’s a deeply complex world, one of those where the sequel (and the author is working on one!) could be the continuation of Nailer’s story or could just as easily take place in Nailer’s world but in a different time and place.

Nailer’s world is multicultural and multiethnic. Nailer describes himself as no one thing: brown skin and black hair like his mother, blue eyes from his father, Richard Lopez. His best friend Pima is “black as oil and hard as iron,” someone else is “skinny and pale,” another is “the shade of brown rice.” Nita, part of a powerful family, is a Chaudhury and a Patel.

One of the many fascinating things Bacigalupi has done is create  not just a future world, but a future culture. There are throwaway religious references that never overwhelm but instead give depth to the story, letting us know that the future has a mix of strange and familiar beliefs: Fates, Ganesha, Jesus Christ, the Rust Saint, the Life Cult. Nailer and his friends and family are marked by tattoos and piercings to show who they are, what they are a member of, or whether — if a tattoo is cut — they belong nowhere. One of the first things Nailer notices about Nita is how smooth and clean her skin is. The use of markings to show identity or membership is not new; but what struck me, reading it, is the permanence of it that reflects both how serious that membership is and how impossible it then would be for someone to move beyond their current existence. Nailer’s body will forever mark him as a ship breaker from the Gulf Coast. 

Ship Breaker is breathless, non stop action, with barely room to breathe. Getting lost in ships, hurricanes, deadly infections, knife battles, and that’s just the first third! The world-building is done so seamlessly that it’s not noticed. Along the way, much is given to the reader to think about. This is set in the future, but all the big questions are about our today: the divide between the haves and have nots, the ecological impact of actions, the use of child labor, as well as questions about loyalty, choice, and fate.

Everything is stacked against Nailer, from his violent upbringing to his daily exposure to health risks to his scarred body. Still, he strives, to escape, to better himself, to be a better person. I love this boy. I want him to win. I want him to triumph. So of course this is a Favorite Book Read in 2010.

Top 100 YA Novels

Remember Betsy Bird’s Top 100 Children’s Novels Poll?

Wondering what the Top 100 YA Novels Poll would be?

Wonder no more! Persnickety Snark put together a poll (using Bird’s system), crunched the numbers, and posted the top 100 YA Novels.

The blog is by an Australian teacher currently living in Japan. Part of the fun of reading through the posts is seeing non-USian book covers. Also fun are the tidbits included about the authors and books.

It’s a nice mix of new and old, and a variety of genres. I confess that I haven’t read some of the books, such as the Morganville Vampires. I’ll be adding it (and others) to be ever-growing To Be Read list. Looking for Alibrandi is on the list, yay (and wow, I love that film!).

I confess that I haven’t counted the titles to see how representative they are of race, gender, ethnicity, sex, year published, genre, etc. But I also confess I didn’t participate in the original poll or voting, so didn’t take the opportunity to suggest, nominate, or vote on books.

Part of the fun of a list like this (after the usual recognizing favorites, discovering new titles, and counting the ones you’ve read) is it is a great conversation starter about what makes a great YA book and what books you would have on your personal top 100.  Or, what books you cannot believe other people consider “great.” 

Is it bad that my two main wishes were that Jellicoe Road was on the list and that Twilight wasn’t number one? Click through to see if wishes do come true.

Read the top 100 as compiled by Persnickety Snark and let me know — do you agree? Disagree? What would you add?

Review: The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed by Pat Rothfuss. Illustrated by Nate Taylor. Subterranean Press. 2010. Copy borrowed from Chasing Ray.

The Plot: Once upon a time, there was a Princess who lived in a marzipan castle.” So this fairy tale begins. End at one place, and you smile; end at another, and you are afraid; end at a third, and there is teeth. You are warned: “This is not a book for children.”

The Good: I read Colleen’s review at Chasing Ray and was terribly intrigued; I like picture books that are different, that have an edge, that are for older readers. The Princess delivers all of that, and more.

The Princess lives alone, except for her teddy bear, Mr. Whiffle. Cheery black and white illustrations show the Princess, alone making her own meals and playing with Mr. Whiffle and her other stuffed animals. She is happy, imaginative, alone, but alone with her toys, much like Christopher Robin. Pay attention, Reader. The black and white illustrations are the first clue that this book isn’t for children; it’s not the bright colors of a children’s book.

The only dark spot in The Princess’s life is the thing under the bed.

It’s something, isn’t it, how a story shifts depending on when you stop telling it? Oh, not just the end, but the message, also. The way you see the characters. Whether you walk away laughing — as you do if you stop reading The Princess at it’s first ending — or afraid –as you after the second ending — or resigned to truth, as you do after the third ending — well, it all depends on when you want the story to end. Do you want to live happy? Afraid? Or with the truth? That is the second clue that this book isn’t for children. A truthful ending is neither happy nor hopeful. It’s just true. And with teeth.

Once the truth is revealed, reread the book. Pay attention to the illustrations, the pictures that an adult reading would have skimmed, barely glanced at in their rush to read the words. A child reading along (reading along despite the warning not to) may have noticed, may have tried to point out — look at the walls. Look at what is on the poles. Look, look, look. And been shushed. Yes, the illustrations are the third clue.

This is not a book meant for children. Well, not unless your name is John Winchester and your children are Sam and Dean.

Is this a book for teens? Yes. And is it a book that will be a bit of a difficult purchase for libraries? Yes; but only because there will be people who look at it and shelve it in the wrong place, and it’ll be hard to get it to the “right” reader.

This is a book about story and how to tell it; it is a book to give nightmares; and it’s a book for any adult who likes their story in graphic format.