THE WAKING DARK

All the kids want out of Oleander, Kan.; few will make it alive.

The small, isolated town has horrors in its past. The citizens begin a slow return to the surface on “the day of the killing,” when five people with little in common go on a killing spree, and then four of them kill themselves. Teenager Cass, the only surviving murderer, is quickly institutionalized. Just as the town creeps back toward normalcy, an EF5 tornado whips through and destroys a quarter of the buildings and a nearby secret research facility. The U.S. government places the town under quarantine, with complete autonomy within it, and the citizens all begin to act out their worst impulses. As the adults slip into insanity and grab for power (when not killing each other), a small band of teens—gay footballer West, daughter of meth dealers Jule and struggling street-preacher’s kid Daniel—fights to survive. When Cass returns to reveal the truth of their situation, they fight to escape. Wasserman’s horror/science-fiction blend is ultraviolent in places, ludicrous in others and snooze-inducing in still others. It’s a mess of an attempt at Stephen King–style small-town horror, undermined by an unrealistic and basically uninteresting portrayal of the classic breakdown of civilization amid a too-large cast.

Skippable in the extreme. (Horror. 17 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86877-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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This engrossing Indigenous tale remains a tribute to the missing and murdered and a clarion call to everyone else.

SURVIVING THE CITY

From the Debwe series

A debut YA graphic novel finds a teenager emotionally and then physically adrift as her home life worsens.

Miikwan and Dez are Indigenous Canadian teens. Miikwan, who is Anishinaabe, has lost her mother. Dez, who is Inninew, lives with her grandmother (or kokum). The girls are best friends—like sisters—who completed their yearlong Berry Fast together (which teaches girls entering womanhood patience). One day, Dez learns that her diabetic kokum might need to have her foot removed. Further, Dez would have to live in a group home. In school, the girls choose to present their Berry Fast for a class Heritage Project. Before starting work on the project, they visit the city mall, where Miikwan’s mom “always used to tell me to be careful.” When the girls notice the predatory stares of older men, they leave and visit the Forks historical area. The last time they were there, they attended a rally for No More Stolen Sisters. A memorial sculpture dedicated to missing women reminds Miikwan of her own beautiful mother, whose spirit still guides her. Later, Dez returns home only to see through the window that a social worker speaks with her kokum. Devastated, she wanders into a park. Her cellphone dies, and she curls up on a bench as night falls. In this harrowing but hopeful tale, illustrator Donovan (The Sockeye Mother, 2017) and author Spillett spotlight the problem of “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People.” While this is a global issue, the graphic novel focuses on the Winnipeg area and highlights for its target audience situations that may pose risk. While Miikwan travels alone on a bus or in the city, readers see both benign and ghoulish spirits present. Spillett knows when to hold dialogue back and allow Donovan’s superb facial expressions to carry the moment, as when Dez spots the social worker in her home. Radiant colors and texting between characters should draw teens into the story, which simply and effectively showcases the need for community solutions to society’s worst ills.

This engrossing Indigenous tale remains a tribute to the missing and murdered and a clarion call to everyone else.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55379-756-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: HighWater Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A visually stimulating and emotionally gripping graphic novel about the Métis people.

RED RIVER RESISTANCE

A GIRL CALLED ECHO

From the A Girl Called Echo series , Vol. 2

A sequel offers a teenager’s further adventures through Métis history.

In Vermette’s (Pemmican Wars, 2018, etc.) graphic novel, Métis teen Echo Desjardins is starting to fit in a little better at Winnipeg Middle School, making friends and getting involved in the Indigenous Students Leadership group. But she still spends most of her time listening to music on her cellphone and getting swept up in the lectures that her teacher gives on the history of the Métis people. This volume covers the 1869 Red River Rebellion—or Red River Resistance, as Echo’s back-in-time friend Benjamin calls it, because “there will be no violence.” After the Hudson Bay Company sells the land on which the Métis people live to the government of Canada, Métis leaders Louis Riel and Ambroise Lépine attempt to halt the inevitable flood of settlers. They establish a provisional Métis government for the Northwest Province. Though the Métis take great pains to negotiate peacefully with the incoming Canadian government, troublemakers both inside and outside of their territory—including the anti–Roman Catholic, anti-French, anti-Indigenous Orangemen—may make the violence that Benjamin promised would never occur impossible to stop. As Echo witnesses one of the great what-ifs of North American history fall apart, the tragedy is reflected in the pain she feels in her personal life back in the 21st century. As in the previous volume, the story is accompanied by beautiful, full-color artwork by the team of Henderson and Yaciuk (Pemmican Wars, 2018, etc.). This book has less of Echo’s own life in it than the first novel, and the historical portions, with their many bearded 19th-century leaders, feel perhaps more didactic and less dramatic than the author’s account of the Pemmican Wars. Even so, this underexplored portion of North American history should prove intriguing and affecting for readers, particularly those living in the United States, where the struggles of the Métis people are largely unknown. By contrasting these historical events side by side with Echo’s story, this installment does a wonderful job showing how the ripples of past policies have shaped the current day and how political decisions always have a personal cost.

A visually stimulating and emotionally gripping graphic novel about the Métis people.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55379-747-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HighWater Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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