Size Doesn’t Matter (115): Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation; Crushing It

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (115): Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation; Crushing ItKindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler, Damian Duffy
Published by Abrams ComicArts on January 10, 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Octavia E. Butler’s bestselling literary science-fiction masterpiece, Kindred, now in graphic novel format.

More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.

Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.

Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, and a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, there are over 500,000 copies of Kindred in print. The intersectionality of race, history, and the treatment of women addressed within the original work remain critical topics in contemporary dialogue, both in the classroom and in the public sphere.

Frightening, compelling, and richly imagined, Kindred offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a new generation of readers.

I’ve not read Kindred, but I want to get more into graphic novels again, so I couldn’t pass this up at ALA. I struggled a bit with Parable of the Sower, the one Butler novel I read, but the graphic novel format worked really well.

Reading an advance graphic novel is interesting. Take this review with a whole lot of salt, because the final graphic novel’s going to be in color, but the ARC is black and white and much of it isn’t close to final art. Towards the end, some panels are even just very rough early sketches. The art wasn’t what I was excited about here, so that’s okay.

Kindred‘s another one of those stories that’s compelling but really painful to read. Everything’s terrible basically all of the time. I mean, it’s about a black woman mysteriously time traveling to a plantation during the era of slavery. Butler does an amazing job highlighting how toxic that time period was and just how easy it can be to get caught up in horrible patterns. The way that Dana, a modern woman, adjusts to slavery is terrifying, as is the way that those attitudes affect her white husband, Kevin, after he ends up trapped in the past for a while. And, realistically, they actually probably had a better time of it than they really would have, which makes everything scarier. This release is happening at a time when we all need the reminder of what we can’t let America be again.

There’s a sense at times that something’s missing. Particularly in the climax, there are a couple of panels where I’m not sure what actually happened. View Spoiler » The graphic novel’s much shorter than the actual book, and there’s less text, so obviously some things are simplified or removed. The story’s still effective, but I do rather want to read the actual book now and see what I missed and if some arcs work a bit better that way.

Kindred serves as a fast-paced, easy reading, ouch my feels introduction to Octavia Butler. After reading this, I very much want to try more of her novels.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (115): Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation; Crushing ItCrushing It by Joanne Levy
Published by Aladdin on January 10, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Twelve-year-old Kat woos the boy next door on behalf of her best friend, and in the process realizes that true beauty—and true confidence—comes from the inside in this hilarious M!X novel from the author of Small Medium at Large.

Kat is already so over seventh grade. It doesn’t help that her best friend and cousin, Olivia, grew a foot over the summer and won a spot on the school’s dance team, shooting her up on the popularity scale. In the jungle that is middle school, Olivia is a gazelle. Braces-wearing, manga-loving, uncoordinated Kat is a warthog.

Plus, Tyler, Kat’s next-door neighbor and buddy since birth, morphed into a really cute boy over the summer. Suddenly the person Kat’s used to playing Xbox with is causing her stomach to do cartwheels.

When Olivia confesses that she has a crush on Tyler and wants to ask him to the Fall Ball dance, Kat knows there’s going to be a problem: Tyler thinks Olivia is just another ditsy girl who only cares about lip gloss and boy bands. But since Kat’s one of Tyler’s oldest friends, Olivia’s sure she’ll know how to get his attention.

Trying to be a good friend and squash her own feelings, Kat makes it her mission to get the two of them together. From writing “Tyler cheat sheets” listing his favorite things, to feeding Olivia lines through her headphones during Tyler-focused study sessions, Kat devises schemes by which Tyler will fall for Olivia. And to her delight—or maybe horror—her plan begins to work. Now that Olivia’s caught Tyler’s attention, Kat has to wonder if she’s fooled Tyler into falling for the wrong girl. But what boy would ever choose a warthog over a gazelle?

Crushing It takes Cyrano de Bergerac to the middle grade set. Levy cleverly retells the tale, and it’s pretty dang cute.

In case you can’t tell from this here blog, I read a lot. One result of that is that I’ve read a whole lot of variations of Cyrano, so for me this wasn’t the most original tale, and it’s not my favorite ship set up either. That said, I’m impressed with what Levy did with it.

The tale actually lends itself much better to the middle school age than to adults imo. Setting the person you’re into up with someone you know isn’t right for them, manipulating them into making that choice, is not a wise decision. But it’s so much more understandable of a mistake when your hormones are just starting to be like “oh hey, boys are cute, and also omg your best friend Tyler’s SUPER CUTE in case you haven’t noticed” and you’re kind of freaking out about all of it. Also, Kat’s self-esteem’s way low because hello MIDDLE SCHOOL, aka destroyer of all self-esteem. Kat agrees to help set Tyler up with her pretty, popular best cousin Olivia, immediately regrets it, but really can’t see a way out.

One thing I do really love about Crushing It, aside from how well it works with this age group, is Tyler. It’s so cute how he knows what he wants, and he isn’t just into popularity and prettiness. He’s pretty forward-thinking, looking for personality and common interests. That boy will go far. I would totally have loved this book as a kid, because it shows that the nerdy girl can get the guy.

In addition to that, I also really appreciate the subtle hints that Olivia and Kat may have some things to work through in the future. Their relationship’s a bit toxic; Kat is starting to see that, and, while they’re not there yet, things will need to change or their relationship will end. It’s nice that Kat takes a moment to realize how much she tries to care about what Olivia’s into and how dismissive Olivia is of what Kat’s into. Without being about that, I think that’s a nice little element for younger readers who might struggle with similarly unbalanced friendships (I know I did).

Middle grade romance is so cute, and I’m glad there are a few middle grades with a strong focus on romance and crushes, because lbr that’s basically all middle and high school for most of us.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

I can just imagine Kat down under the bleachers telling her what to say

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