After Happyface’s family suffered a major trauma, his parents split and he moved to a new town. He decided not to tell anyone about it retreated into his art, burying his feelings behind a smile. He quickly fell in with a popular crowd and his plan appeared to be working. But the intriguing Gretchen and her friends wanted to know more about him and why he acted strangely. His repressed feelings caused him to blow up at everyone and he had to with the fallout.
Why I picked it up: A book rep put it into my hands at PLA.
Why I finished it: It accelerates the trend of hybrid novels that are somewhere between prose and a graphic novel. There is literally not a page that goes by that is solely text. The pictures are inspired, sometimes funny and exaggerated or delicate and wistful. They clarify the feelings churning around inside Happyface.
I'd give it to: Trevor, who pores over the images in graphic novels and manga, and would love the drawings in this book -- like those in Cathy’s Book and The Invention of Hugo Cabret they require a reader’s full attention because they work with the text to create the story. Librarians looking for somewhat hi-lo books about kids on the edge to draw other kids off the edge.
2040. Post-zombie-uprising United States. Georgia and Shaun are bloggers waiting for their big break. When they are picked as new media representatives to travel along with presidential candidate Senator Ryman, their ratings spike. They also have front row seats for the zombie attacks perpetrated by a shadowy cabal of zealots who weaponize the disease that reanimates the dead. As they dig into a mystery that involves the CDC and the government while trying to stay uninfected, they find that the truth might kill them, not set them free.
Why I picked it up: Read the first page where Shaun and Georgia jump a motorcycle over a mass of undead while trying to report a story and was hooked.
Why I finished it: This is smart zombie fiction, a mystery/thriller first and a zombie book second. Add the new media angle and the details of a society as obsessed with tracking infection as governing itself and you have a book that entertains with several different storylines. Plus, the book is full of nice touches, like claiming that the most popular names (both boys’ and girls’ names) in 2040 were ones that involved variations of George, as in George Romero, whose zombie movies remain the best/most informative manual for staying uninfected.
I'd give it to: Anyone who has discussed what a zombie-proof society would look like with good friends right after a Mountain Dew and Red-Vine fueled zombie movie marathon. Becca, because she likes strong, no-nonsense female protagonists.
Julie’s life is falling apart. Her family died in tragic accident, her sister is in a hospital with PTSD, and her husband recently filed for divorce.
She goes out to the desert to take photos. After a loud explosion, an alloy falls down from the sky. Bits attach to her body, forming a kind of silver “armor.” It won’t come off, and it has a mind of its own. When soldiers threaten her, the alloy attacks them.
She meets Dillon, whose girlfriend, Annie, died in the explosion. They go on the run together, chased by the army, a government agent, and a crazy guy whose hand is covered by the same substance.
Why I finished it: I felt deeply connected to the characters. Julie felt responsible for her sister (she’s the only one left to take care of her) and just didn’t have anything left for herself or her marriage. I’ve been in Julie’s position. My life was out of hand and decisions were made for me. I also identified with Ivy, a super smart, no-nonsense woman stuck between her professionalism & motherhood.
I'd give it to: Becky & Paul -- they love mysteries with a scientific angle, and Jim, who was once a serious biker like Dan (another fabulous character in the book).
Violent, bloody, perverse, sadistic, hip graphic novel about a family of super heroes who go back in time to kill or save President Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.
Why I picked it up: I opened it to the second page, a flashback where the super powered kids in the Umbrella Academy fought a giant Abe Lincoln monument that breathed fire.
Why I finished it: The violence throughout is ultra entertaining.
I'd give it to: Anyone else waiting to see the fights in the as-yet-unpublished final volume of Dan Hipp’s Gyakushu! series, because this will tide you over for a bit, or who enjoyed the tone and pace of his and Mark Andrew Smith’s The Amazing Joy Buzzards.
Winning the Civil War wasn't just a matter of how big the size of the army or military strategy. It was also down to who invented (or stole) and used new technology, from weapons to transportation to intelligence gathering. The leadership on both sides took the same classes at West Point, so anything that improved on the old ways of war made a big difference.
Why I picked it up: Lincoln was a badass. He did some really difficult things to save the country. How cool is it that he was an early adopter, too? (He personally tested an early repeating rifle on the grounds of the White House!)
Why I finished it: The Civil War overlapped with the golden age of the prolific amateur inventor. Every senator had someone in their district with a sure-fire invention that could win the war. The choices of which technologies to use were critical decisions made by military leadership in a war that could have gone either way.
I'd give it to: Ms. Drum's 5th grade class, so they can find out about people who changed the course of history who weren’t politicians or generals.
These three interwoven stories take inspiration from each other:
*Paul is back home in Ohio, visiting his parents. He’s writing and drawing. Paul is also taking pictures of his hometown for a girl he’s going to meet soon. He think he’ll fall in love with her. (realistic art)
*The story Paul is working on. The boy faces a monster while getting advice from the wise guy in the sky. (blue pencil sketches, cartoony art)
*Flashback to an incident from Paul’s childhood. (cartoony art printed to look like it’s old)
*The story of the man at the convenience store. (realistic art that looks like it’s being read in an aged comic)
*A comic about Zeno, the Greek philosopher. (looks like an old comic, but done with chibi style art).
Why I picked it up: After flipping through it in the library, I had to see if the different art styles could work together to tell a story.
Why I finished it: It’s short enough that the stream of consciousness quality of the story worked with the different styles of art to make me stop and say, “Wow!”