Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator: Alex Puvilland
Publisher: First Second
Addison and her sister live just beyond the spill zone. They are close enough for Addison to take her camera and motorcycle into the zone to capture haunting images of strange animals. frozen tornados, swings that sway without occupants, and other oddities. Addison's sister, Lexa, escaped the zone in a bus with no driver and hasn't spoken since that awful night. She carries a doll that speaks to her telepathically. On occasion the doll asks Lexa to persuade Addison to take her into the zone for "recharging". The doll protects both girls as best it can, but it's a creepy little thing. Addison has rules when she is the zone. She doesn't take pictures of forbidden things, she avoids the rats with glowing eyes, and she leaves the meat puppets alone. She also avoids the hospital, the place their parents were that night, until an eager art collector offers an exorbitant price for an object within the zone. It's an offer Addison can't turn down if she wants to help her little sister speak again. The thing is in the hospital. Addison faces her fear and sacrifices her bike to make her escape.
This is a compellingly written graphic novel about a post-apocalyptic city and the courage of a young woman trying to feed her sister and herself. The details are vague. Nuclear leak? Alien invasion? What spilled? The suspense sets a mysterious environment where anything can happen, where nothing is totally explained and this ambiance provokes a desire to protect the two young women and heightens the feeling of danger and impending doom. Addison is a dependable protagonist who must face her fear each day to stay alive. Her art and her devotion to her sister are laudable, but her attitude toward pretty much everyone and everything else reflects her insecurity in a dangerous world. She has an overwhelming responsibility in caring for her sister and she finds that people can be as dangerous as the Spill. She is canny and careful, but is it enough keep them safe? This is a great read with haunting visuals that will drive the reader from one page to the next while holding each breath in.
*Contains mild language.