Horror & Hormones | Book Review of Charles Burns’ “Black Hole”

It seems impossible to write a book review of Charles Burns’ Black Hole, a graphic novel compendium of a comics series from 1995-2005. While I was reading the novel, I fluctuated between  so many emotions—wonder, boredom, disgust, fascination, repulsion, transcendence. This is partially because Burns’ novel, now considered a landmark classic in the history of modern-day graphic novels and comics, truly defies categorization. It is almost a Rorschach ink blot where it means different things to everyone. Yet it is absolutely a must-read litmus test for your opinions on sexuality, medicine, infectious disease, love, and the suburban teen experience. Let me back up and try to give you a passable summary. Essentially, Black Hole is about a group of teens in the Seattle suburbs during the mid-1970s. The teens notice an outbreak of strange medical phenomena. For example, they pass out and hallucinate that they are falling into a black hole. Or they meet someone with a tail and don’t really see it as that unusual. People develop tiny mouths on their neck, feet, and back. Other teens have their facial features transformed into furry creature faces. At the same time, the comics focus on a small and select group of these...

Fall 2015’s Most Anticipated Comics & Graphic Novels

I kind of binge on graphic novels. Every 3-4 months I’ll get it in my head that I need to read not a graphic novel, but 5 or 6 graphic novels. And thus my circulation librarian is subject to my whims, carving out several inches on the holds shelf so there’s room for graphic novels big and small, from Habibi to Here. I pack my sturdiest tote when I go to pick them up, and I clear out my own bookshelves to make sure they are heavy duty and ready to receive such big, thick graphic novels. It’s kind of amazing. Fall 2015 is going to be one sick time for new graphic novels. A few have already been released in September. I’m going to take you through some of my most anticipated graphic novels of fall 2015, a guided tour, if you will, of some of the highlights of the fall publishing season. So without further ado, these are some of the graphic novels I have already preordered or put a hold in for in my library system. They are graphic novel gold. (PS: If you click on the author and/or illustrator’s name, you get a link to their...

Battling Boy by Paul Pope | Review

Pope, Paul. Battling Boy. New York: First Second, 2013. Genre: Graphic Novel, Superhero, Action/Adventure Intended Audience: 12 and up Personal reaction to the book… From the Eisner-award-winning author of Batman: Year 100 comes Battling Boy, a graphic novel done in an old school comic book style. Battling Boy’s hero is the teenage son of superheroes from another planet. In order to prove himself and come of age, the boy is sent to Earth, to Arcopolis, a city which is currently being destroyed by monsters of all shapes and sizes.


Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol | Review

Brosgol, Vera. Anya’s Ghost. New York: First Second, 2011. This graphic novel is about Anya, a first generation Russian immigrant, and the challenges she faces with making friends at her American private school, navigating her crush on a popular athlete, and negotiating with a ninety-year-old ghost that is haunting her. When Anya accidentally falls down a hole in a field early on in the story, she meets a ghost, Emily, who has been inhabiting the hole for a long time. When Anya is found and rescued from the hole in the ground, she accidentally brings Emily along with her.


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang |Review

Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. New York: Square Fish, 2006. Genre: Graphic Novel Intended Audience: 14 and up Personal reaction to the book American Born Chinese was an interesting graphic novel, one that I think I’m going to need some time to digest. It narrates three interlocking stories. The first is the tale of an ancient monkey warrior-god in Chinese mythology (or some imagined Chinese mythology). The second and ultimately the main story is about a young Chinese-American teen boy, Jin Wang, and his struggles to fit in with American culture. The final thread is about an American boy, Danny, and his Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee. It’s not immediately clear how these three stories fit together which made it all the more satisfying when they intersected into one story.


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Welcome to Broke By Books, a blog by Sarah S. Davis, where the guiding mission is to spread a contagious love for reading through helpful, thought provoking, and enjoyable writing about books. Please join me in growing an inspired, engaged, and fearless reading life.

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