Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Review: In the Shadows by Kiersten White, Art & Art Story by Jim di Bartolo

In the Shadows is a teen fiction-graphic novel hybrid to be published by Scholastic Press on May 1, 2014. In the Shadows is a supernatural/ action/ thriller/ fantasy with mystery, murder, evil, and immortality. It is a beautiful book, rich in detail and content, printed on glossy paper.

Summary: If you could live forever, what price would you pay?

Two sisters living in a sleepy Maine town hope for very different things. Sixteen-year-old Cora wants nothing more than to move past the wild emotions of her youth, while fifteen-year-old Minnie wishes everything in her life felt as magical as the Gothic novels she devours. Both girls are intrigued by Arthur, the boy with no past but an abundance of mysteries, living in their boarding house.
When two new boarders, brothers the girls' own age, arrive unexpectedly, the beckoning night pulls the teens out of the house and into a mystery. But as the new friends grow closer, their adventure takes a turn for the worse. Something sinister is happening in their sleepy town, and the teens must uncover the truth about its shadowy history — before the menacing past of one of their own catches up to them.
Although the book is aimed at readers 12 & up, I believe it will do better with teen readers ages 14 & up. The book is dark and fairly complex, with two different timelines, a lot of mystery, and adult themes such as suicide and violence. The story is told in both graphic novel panels (no text on these pages) and in chapters. The graphic novel sections are set in the future, working backward toward the present, while the chapters are in chronological order. I'm an advanced reader, with a degree in English literature, and I had some trouble getting used to the narrative style. The book throws you into the deep end with no text or information so you have to be an invested reader. 

The art is GORGEOUS. Jim di Bartolo is a genius and a talented artist. The severe emotion and the dark colours (as well as some of the vigilante themes) remind me of Watchmen. There's so much emotion and detail packed into every panel!

In its most basic form, In the Shadows is the struggle of man to overcome the evil in the world. Arthur is the dark knight, dispatching evil and taking down men who wield 'magic' like a weapon for self-gain. Arthur is set with the task of freeing the demon from their grasp; only then can the world be at peace and he can live happily ever after with the woman who loves him. At the heart of the story is the idea that the world needs both good and evil; the world needs balance and a hero to sacrifice everything to provide that balance. 

This book is intense, dark, and very moving. It's not my kind of novel, but when I finally understood what was happening and got used to the narrative style, I did enjoy it. I would have preferred some text on the panels, especially at the beginning, but hey, I'm writing this review in January, and the book isn't to be published until May. The final copy may still see many changes before pub. date. I recommend this to older readers who are experienced with graphic novels.

3.5 Stars

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