Posted in Graphic Novels, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Two more DC original YA graphic novels to put on your TBR: The Oracle Code and Batman: Overdrive

DC Ink is knocking it out of the park with their original graphic novels for the YA audience! The next two coming up star Oracle and The Bat himself.

The Oracle Code, by Marieke Nijkamp/Illustrated by Manuel Preitano, (March 2020, DC Ink), $16.99, ISBN: 9781401290665

Ages 12+

Marieke Nijkamp, whose book, This Is Where It Ends is still one of the most intense books I’ve ever read, brings her intensity to a creepy mystery in the Bat-Family universe. The Oracle Code centers on Barbara Gordon, (later known as Batgirl), hacker and daredevil daughter of Gotham’s own James Gordon. Deftly creating her own entry in the DC Otherworlds universe by having Barbara’s gunshot paralysis occur while witnessing a police chase a suspect – as opposed to being shot, point blank, by the Joker, as was established in the 1988 graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke – we get a younger, Barbara whose personality is still in adolescent flux, and will be formed by the events she experiences in The Oracle Code. Barbara enters the Arkham Center for Independence, delivered by her father, to learn how to navigate her new normal and undergo physical, mental, and emotional rehabilitation. Barbara is slow to come around, and we feel her anger and her despondence as powerfully as we feel her sense of loss. When she meets a fellow patient who insists her brother is also at Arkham, Barbara thinks, at first, that the girl is dealing with her own loss: until her gut tells her otherwise. Barbara opens up her own investigation, which could put her at even greater risk.

I loved The Oracle Code. Big shoutout to one of my favorite colorists, Jordie Bellaire, for creating a somber, almost sinister mood with Manuel Preitano’s fantastic artwork. The story builds as we wonder who’s reliable and who isn’t, and Barbara doesn’t escape judgement here, either. Seeing Barbara reclaim her agency is an incredible thing; readers will appreciate her frustration as she is blown off and questioned time and again. Another home run for DC Ink and for Marieke Nijkamp.

Batman: Overdrive, by Shea Fontana/Illustrated by Marcelo Di Chiara, (Feb. 2020, DC Ink), $9.99, ISBN: 9781401283568

Ages 10+

DC Superhero Girls writer and illustrator Shea Fontana and Marcelo Di Chiara turn their powers to a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne in Batman: Overdrive! Bruce Wayne, angry and struggling to come to terms with his parents’ deaths, turns his skills to detective work and automotive work: he decides to rebuild his dad’s first car. There’s an interesting new spin on his origin with Catwoman as the teen Bruce makes two new friends; Selina Kyle and Mateo Diaz, and we see young Bruce laying the foundation for the man who will become Batman.

Overdrive gives us a Bruce Wayne fraught with conflict. Alfred isn’t in his confidence yet; he pushes back and argues with him at every turn. He’s working through his anger and learning to trust here, and framed within the story of his father’s car, Batman: Overdrive is a solid Batman origin story. This skews toward a slightly younger audience in both writing and artwork; middle schoolers will enjoy this as much as a teen audience. Frustration with parents and a strong desire for freedom will resonate with all readers.

 

Posted in Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

This is Where it Ends Giveaway

Marieke Nijkamp’s brilliant look inside a school shooting, This is Where it Ends, isn’t in stores until January, but you can win an advance copy from Sourcebooks NOW through November 1 – this Saturday!

this is where it ends

Check out their Tumblr and enter the giveaway for a chance to win an advance copy of the book, plus a chalkboard and chalk. Once you’ve read the book, take to the chalkboard and let us know how it made you feel! Snap a photo and share on your Tumblr, Twitter, and other social media networks, and use the tags #thisiswhereitends #sourcebooksfire.

This is a great opportunity to check out a new book AND let people know what you think! Enter the giveaway before it’s too late!

Posted in Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Teen, Uncategorized, Young Adult/New Adult

This is Where it Ends brings us into the heart of a school shooting.

this is where it endsThis is Where it Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp (Jan. 2016, Sourcebooks Fire), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492622468

Recommended for ages 13+

It’s the first day of the school year at Alabama’s Opportunity High. At 10 a.m. the principal finishes her welcome speech. At 10:03, the students, trying to get to class, notice the auditorium doors won’t open. At 10:05, someone starts shooting. Not everyone is in that auditorium, though – some kids are running track, some kids are cutting – and it’s up to them to help their classmates and, in some cases, family members, inside.

This is Where it Ends takes readers inside a school on lockdown. The shooter has things to say, and this captive audience is going to listen. Four narratives from teens inside and outside of the auditorium bring readers there, inside that school, waiting for the next bullet to fire. Every one of these teens has a history with the shooter – some good, some not.

This book is tense. It’s rough. Ms. Nijkamp excels at putting the reader into the middle of the chaos – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the churning inside – readers are thrown onto the same roller coaster that her characters are on. She creates strong backgrounds and uses each character’s narrative to move between past and present-day to provide a full picture not only of the traumatized teens, but a profile of the shooter himself.

There’s also a brilliant use of diversity here. We’ve got a queer female person of color as a main character. There are teens of all backgrounds in this school. This school can be Anywhere, USA, and these kids could be our neighbors, our families, our friends. Author Marieke Nijkamp is an executive member of We Need Diverse Books and the founder of DiversifYA; she practices what she preaches with eloquence and skill. Her author website offers a discussion guide for This is Where it Ends. Educators can also find resources at the National School Safety Center to deepen a discussion on school shootings and school safety.

This is a great book to have in libraries and classrooms, particularly those with a current events focus. Discussion groups will find a lot to delve into here. I’d love to see parent book groups read this, too – it’s not a pleasant topic to think about, but when it concerns our kids, it’s something we should start talking about.