5/4/17

Spill Zone, by Scott Westerfeld

If you are a fan of scary sci fi graphic novels for teens, leap to get your hands on Spill Zone, by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland (FirstSecond, May, 2017).  That being said, I am not such a fan in general, yet I found Westerfeld's first foray into graphic novels utterly gripping.

Three years Addison's home town of Poughkeepsie was the site of an unexplained disaster of cataclysmic proportions.  Though the buildings remain standing, the town is now a spill zone of horribly uncanny manifestations and dangers--those who died in the initial even are now reanimated "meat puppets" (though not flesh-eating zombies) and deadly snares and weirdness can trap the unwary.  Addison's parents were trapped in the Spill Zone, and presumably are dead; her little sister was one of a handful of kids who escaped.  Lexa hasn't spoken since.  Now, three years later, Addison lives on the edge of the zone, making a living by sneaking past the military barriers to take pictures of the bizarre horrors inside (though she draws the line at photographing the former inhabitants). So far her rules have kept her safe...

When a collector of her work makes her a million-dollar offer to recover something from inside the hospital, Addison decides to break her own rules to do the job, and things get even more hellish.  And in the meantime, the Spill Zone has crept into Addison's own home.  Warning--if creepy dolls possessed by demons (?) are not your thing, do not read this book! Vespertine, Lexa's doll, is a creepy character in her own right, with the text bubbles of the graphic novel format perfect for conveying her disturbing thoughts that only Lexa can hear.

The jaggedy flashy-colored art work is beautifully hallucinogenic, and conveys the distortions of reality perfectly.  Addison is a compelling character, and the mystery of the whole disaster is even more compelling!  So if you like nightmares, it should be right up your alley.  A reason I myself liked it is that I'm always a fan of stories about sisters, and the relationship between the two here was a good one.

The only thing I objected to about the book was that it is very much a first book.  There are lots of mysterious plot threads introduced but by no means resolved, and having now been thoroughly hooked, I am anticipatory as heck about the next book!

Here's an interview with Scott Westerfeld at NPR that elaborates a bit more.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

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