Young Adult Comics

graphic-novels

I haven’t had time to prepare a proper review for today as I’m currently studying for an exam. Don’t worry though – so long as I pass, everything should be back to normal for next week!

Anyhow, instead I thought I’d use today’s post to talk about something a little different. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll already know that I’m also an avid comic book reader. While comics are a bit more mainstream now than they once were, they’re still often looked down upon as being of lesser value than other forms of art and literature. This is quite frankly crazy – as with the novels that I’ve reviewed, the quality of comics can vary quite wildly between titles, writers and artists.

Therefore, I thought I’d use this post to talk about my favourite comics for middle grade and young adult readers. Everything on this list (apart from Nimona) is an ongoing series so you should be able to find them at your local book store, library or comic book shop. I also should note that all of these series are all Western comics. While I do also read manga, these days I’m more of a Western comic book reader and so I’m not up on the most recent Japanese titles to recommend.

Anyhow, let’s start with some Marvel comics!

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Northern Lights

northern-lights

Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass as it is known in America) is really a book that needs no introduction. It was first published in 1995 and forms the first part of Philip Pullman’s epic His Dark Materials trilogy. The novel is followed by The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000). It has since been adapted into many formats, including a film and graphic novel, and a companion series has recently been announced with the first title due for publication at the end of this year.

Since the death of her parents, Lyra Belacqua has been raised at Jordan College and is content roaming the roof tops and fighting the travelling Gyptian kids with her friend, Roger, and daemon companion, Pantalaimon. However, nothing can last forever. Roger mysteriously disappears one evening and, shortly afterwards, a beautiful woman named Mrs Coulter expresses an interest in adopting Lyra. Although worried about her friend, Lyra is excited to live with such a beautiful and intelligent woman. However, the Master of Jordan expresses concern about Mrs Coulter’s intentions. He gifts Lyra a rare truth telling device called the alethiometer and makes her swear to never show it to her new guardian.

The longer that Lyra spends in Mrs Coulter’s home, the more that she realises that the woman isn’t as kind as she first seemed. When Lyra discovers that she is directly linked to the Gobblers – a group of kidnappers who may be responsible for Roger’s abduction – she runs away and sets off on a journey of her own. Her goal is to save Roger and then head North in search of her Uncle Asriel – a prisoner of the panserbjørne – and deliver the alethiometer to him.

However, Lyra’s journey is filled with danger. Armoured bears, warring witch clans, and the terrible secret behind the Gobblers all stand between her and her goal. Most mysterious all is the nature of Dust, unexplained particles that drift down from the Northern Lights and stick to adults. Is it true that they pour from a parallel world? And if so, what are Lord Asriel’s plans for it?

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One Wish Away

one-wish-away

One Wish Away was written by Ingrid Seymour and is due for release at the beginning of February. It is a paranormal romance novel about a girl who finds herself irresistibly drawn to a djinn. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced. Many thanks to the author for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

Marielle has not had an easy upbringing. Her mother tragically passed away and her father abandoned her, choosing to drown his sorrows in drink. She was instead raised by her grandfather, helping out in his esoteric flower shop, until one tragic afternoon when he too lost his life. Left with no family and shouldering her grandfather’s extensive debt, she is forced to turn her hopes to the unusual object that he left to her. A magical stone.

Trapped within the stone is Faris, an ancient djinn who is cursed to grant three wishes to whoever owns the stone. He is only free so long as that person is making their choices. Once voice is given to the final wish, he vanishes again until the stone changes hands. Marielle immediately regrets summoning the djinn. She remembers enough of her grandfather’s stories to know that he can’t be trusted. He will seek to seduce her, doing anything in his power to prevent her from making her wishes so that he can enjoy his freedom.

Yet Marielle’s suspicion blinds her to the truth. Faris is more complex than she gives him credit for and is hiding shocking secrets of his own. Although she has had nothing but bad experiences with men, she slowly starts to trust him. Yet doing so puts her in tremendous danger as Faris’s brother, Zet, makes his presence known. Zet has plans for his older brother and isn’t above hurting anyone who gets in his way…

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Podkin One-Ear

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Podkin One-Ear was written by Kieran Larwood and illustrated by David Wyatt. It was first published in 2016 and is a middle grade fantasy story which tells the tale of a warrior rabbit. While the novel reads as though it’s the first book in a series, at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Every bunny has heard of Podkin One-Ear – the legendary hero who saved all rabbitkind from the monstrous Gorm. Stories are told of the battles he fought against giants and vampire rabbits. Yet as a bard approaches the Thornwood Burrow on Bramblemas Eve, he brings with him a different tale. You see, he knows the true story of Podkin’s origins. And it’s not what a young rabbit may expect.

Before he was a warrior, Podkin was the spoiled son of a Chieftain. He knew that one day he’d inherit his father’s burrow and didn’t really care, instead shirking from his lessons to sleep or play. Yet things changed on Bramblemas Eve when the Gorm invaded his home. The Gorm were once rabbits but since they uncovered an evil artefact they became monsters of flesh and metal. Their leader – Scramashank – murders Podkin’s father and forces the young rabbit to flee into the night with his sister and brother, Paz and Pook.

That could have been the end of things, but Podkin took with him the Starclaw – a magical copper dagger sacred to his burrow. Somehow, the Gorm realise this and begin to relentlessly pursue him through the forest. Alone, Podkin and his family have no hope of escaping the monsters. Yet Podkin has an incredible destiny and soon finds that allies can be found in the strangest of places…

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Nature’s Confession

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Nature’s Confession was written by J.L. Morin and first published in 2015. It is a science fiction novel (falling into the sub-genre of “cli-fi”), set in a futuristic and heavily-polluted Earth. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of Morin’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Planet Earth is dying. For years, the people who lived there have ignored renewable energy sources and instead plundered resources of fossil fuels. The Emperor of Earth and Ocean is keen that no one argues against him, and thus has turned schools into places were children are encouraged not to think for themselves, rewarding only those that conform to his capitalist philosophy and keep their mouths shut.

However, Boy finds that he is immune to their brainwashing mist and starts to question why his teachers refuse to answer his questions. Boy is a code writing genius and is soon contacted by a mysterious benefactor who wishes for him to design a programme that allows all who use it to upload ideas. The seas are poisoned and it’s not going to be long before the air becomes unbreathable. The stranger wants to give the people a platform that they can use to voice their ideas regarding how the environment can be saved.

Boy creates his program but quickly learns that his benefactor was not being entirely truthful. It is instead the spark that will allow machines to become self-aware, leading to the possibility of creating artificially intelligent androids. As the beloved benefactor of these robots, Boy and his family soon find themselves catapulted across the universe. When the Emperor sets his sights on destroying other worlds, only they can raise awareness of his crimes and fight back.

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Megamorphs #2: In the Time of Dinosaurs

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Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles

In the Time of Dinosaurs was written by K.A. Applegate and first published in 1998. It is the second book of the Megamorphs series, a spin-off on the popular science-fiction series, Animorphs. Although the novel is a spin-off, it’s designed to be read after The Decision (the eighteenth book of the main series) so I wouldn’t advise picking up this one until you’ve at least reached that point.

It’s Marco that first hears about the nuclear submarine. The vessel ran into difficulties off the coast of his hometown, trapping its crew at the bottom of the sea. The Animorphs know that they can use their morphing powers to save the day, yet the rescue attempt goes wrong in a way that none of them expect. The submarine explodes with such force that it creates a Sario Rip, sending the Animorphs hurtling back through time.

They find themselves stranded in the late Cretaceous Period, a time when humans do not exist and dinosaurs rule the Earth. Now, at the bottom of the food chain, even their battle morphs are utterly useless. When a kronosaurus devours Rachel and Tobias, the rest of the team have no choice but to flee for their lives. If they are going to survive long enough to find a way home, they know that they will have to acquire some powerful new morphs.

As they explore the jungle, they come across something that none of them were expecting. Two alien races battle for control of the planet – the peaceful Mercora and the vicious Nesk. Caught in the war between them, the Animorphs must find a way to use their technology to recreate the Sario Rip. Yet their time could well be running out as a comet has appeared in the sky…

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Nevernight

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Nevernight was written by Jay Kristoff and first published in 2016. It is a dark fantasy novel about a teenage girl who seeks revenge for the murder of her family. The story forms the first part of The Nevernight Chronicle, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

When Mia Corvere was just ten years old, she watched as her father was executed for the role he played in a rebellion against the Senate. Yet the tyranny of Consul Scaeva did not end there. Her mother and infant brother were sentenced to a lifetime in the bowels of the impenetrable prison known as Philosopher’s Stone and Mia was sentenced to death. Scaeva did not like to leave loose ends.

This could have been the end of Mia’s tale, yet it was then that she discovered that she possessed a terrible power: the ability to control the shadows to flit between patches of darkness or make herself invisible. The revelation came from Mister Kindly – a talking cat made of pure shadow – who immediately joined her as a companion. Lost and with nowhere to go, Mia was taken in by an elderly assassin named Mercurio who agreed to train her in his art. Mia studied hard to become a killer. It was the only way that she could avenge her family.

Six years later, Mia makes her first successful kill. Mercurio deems her worthy of the journey to the Red Church – the place where the greatest killers study under the eternal gaze of Niah, Goddess of the Night. Yet life at the academy will be Mia’s biggest challenge. Of the thirty students, only four will prove worthy enough of becoming Blades. The rest are destined for a life or servitude or a sudden, gruesome death…

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Inspired by Frost

inspired-by-frost

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels [here] and [here].

Inspired by Frost was written by Alicia Rades and first published in 2016. It is the third instalment of the Crystal Frost series and follows on directly where Fire in Frost (2015) and Desire in Frost (2016) left off, so I’d strongly advise that you checked out the previous books before picking up this one. The series follows the continuing adventures of a teenage psychic as she tries to use her powers to help those around her.

While shopping for a dress for her mother’s wedding, Crystal suddenly encounters the spirit of a teenage girl who identifies herself as Melissa. Unlike the other spirits that she’s encountered, Melissa isn’t interested in naming her killer. Instead, Melissa begs Crystal to help Sage – a girl who is destined to die on the day of the wedding. There is only one problem. Crystal has no idea who Sage is.

Although Crystal quickly identifies the girl in question, she doesn’t know how she can use her powers to help her. While she can sense that Sage is afraid of something, she has no way of accurately predicting how the teenager is going to die. Yet Crystal knows that she can’t just abandon Sage to her fate and tries to befriend her, hoping that in doing so she can uncover some kind of clue.

As Crystal spends more time with Sage, she learns of a darkness in the girl’s past. The horrible events of her childhood still haunt her and the young psychic realises this could be connected to the thing threatens her life. Yet this puts Crystal in a very difficult position. There is no way that she can tell Sage the truth without revealing secrets of her own. And her mother always warned her to be careful who she told about her powers…

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Labyrinth Lost

labyrinth-lost

Labyrinth Lost was written by Zoraida Córdova and first published in 2016. It is a fantasy novel about a teenage bruja who is forced to travel across a hostile spirit world to save her kidnapped family. The story forms the first part of the Brooklyn Brujas series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Alex has grown up hating her family’s magic ever since an encounter with her Aunt’s reanimated corpse. Although her sisters – Lula and Rose – take pride in their abilities, Alex wants nothing more than to be normal. However, Lula is certain that her sister’s power is just being blocked and will try anything to get it to surface. What she doesn’t know is that Alex has been hiding a power so terrible that it scares her. She has kept her magic a secret for years, praying that it will go away.

After an incident at school, her secret is revealed. Naturally, her family is thrilled. She is an Encantrix – the rarest and most powerful of brujas – and her mother rushes to arrange Alex’s Deathday to call upon their ancestors to bless her powers. With no one listening to her fears, Alex finds herself confiding in a young brujo named Nova. Nova reveals to her that there is a way to ask the gods to remove a bruja’s power and Alex sets about obtaining the items to sabotage her Deathday. However, that’s when things start to go wrong.

As her spell backfires, she summons a terrifying apparition who drags her entire family into Los Lagos, the place where spirits wait after death. Alex learns that the being – known as the Devourer – will only hold on to her family until the next eclipse and then will feed on their souls. With Nova at her side, she travels to Los Lagos to rescue them. But Los Lagos is a world of hidden dangers, especially for one as powerful and untrained as Alex…

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Point Blanc

Point Blanc

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Stormbreaker. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Point Blanc was written by Anthony Horowitz and first published in 2001. It’s the second book in the massively popular Alex Rider series, preceded by Stormbreaker (2000) and followed by Skeleton Key (2002), Eagle Strike (2004), Scorpia (2004), Ark Angel (2005), Snakehead (2007), Crocodile Tears (2009), Scorpia Rising (2011) and Russian Roulette (2013). The series follows Alex Rider, a fourteen year old boy who is recruited by the MI6 to undertake missions that would be impossible for adult operatives.

Following the defeat of Herod Sayle, Alex wanted nothing more than to return to his normal life. However, Blunt has other ideas. Two billionaires have died in mysterious accidents and the only link between them is that their children attended the same school. Point Blanc is an elite academy hidden deep in the French Alps that claims to be able to reform even the most troubled of teenager. The MI6 fear that this might be the front for something more sinister.

Alex assumes the identity of Alex Friend – the delinquent son of a wealthy supermarket tycoon – and enrols at the academy. Once there, he’s surprised to find just how strange the school is. It’s run by two mysterious people – the creepy Professor Grief and his weightlifting assistant Mrs Stellenbosch – and all the boys exhibit the same weird body language. Only one boy – James Sprintz – seems to have the same concerns as Alex and is determined to escape but this seems impossible – Point Blanc is at the top of a dangerous mountain and Professor Grief has confiscated every set of skis.

As James starts to behave more like the other boys, Alex realises that the MI6 were right to suspect that something is wrong. He’s tempted to abort the mission and get himself to safety but he knows that he can’t abandon the other boys. He needs to find evidence of what Grief is up to before it’s too late and he becomes like all the rest…

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