December 23, 2017

spill zone 1

Spill Zone Volume 1

Scott Westerfeld (story) Alex Puvilland (artwork)

Pub. 2017

224 pgs.

Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Graphic Novel

Summary / Review / TLDR / Recommended For / Issues / Themes / Grade


Summary

Three years ago, Poughkeepsie, New York, underwent a dramatic disaster. They called it the “Spill.” Out of nowhere the laws of physics went topsy-turvy, and now it looks like a scene from a horror film: soulless bodies hovering in midair, demonic animals that seem to have gained sentience roaming the streets, and areas where even touching one’s toes to the ground will result in agonizing death. Most people avoid the Spill Zone for good reason.

But not Addison. She is the primary caretaker of her twelve-year-old sister, who hasn’t spoken a word since that fateful night when their parents were killed in the Spill. Addison knows she’s taking her life in her hands every time she forays through the ruins, but the photos she takes and sells on the black market pay for rent, groceries, and repairs on her old motorcycle, the only transportation that will take her safely through the Spill Zone.

And then she takes a picture of a new kind of monster, one the world’s never seen before, and she’s offered a million dollars to do one last job…

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Review

Holy crap this book is creepy. The demonic doll—I’m not pediophobic, mind you, but… *shudders*

And there’s the colors. They collide and clash on the page like a cacophony of cymbals, jarring each other outside the lines like how I imagine a bad LSD trip would be. They, as much as the narrative itself, add to the overall spooky mood of Spill Zone.

But what a story it is! You can never be sure what’s coming next. Granted, such unpredictability is one of Westerfeld’s hallmarks. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to accurately predict the course of one of his books from start to finish. Individual events, yes. Story arcs? Not so much. This one is no different, and talk about refreshing. I know I read a lot, so my standards for predictability might be rather high, but this one earns top marks.

Spill Zone is twisty and turn-y from start to finish. The way the pages break helps to build tension, and I swear there were times I couldn’t turn them fast enough to see what happens next. This is definitely one of those “stay up all night even though you have to be up early in the morning and are totally risking all kinds of hellishly awful nightmares” kinds of series.

Right. I forgot to mention that bit. Unfortunately, Spill Zone is the first in a graphic novel series. It doesn’t look like the next one will be published until the middle of 2018, either, so any readers will have to anxiously await the release of the next volume if they read this one. Literally the only problem with this book is its first-in-brand-new-series status. Because of that fact I’d almost recommend waiting to read it at least until book two comes out so you don’t have to reread it later to remember what happened.

But it’s just so good.

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TLDR

Amazing start to what promises to be a scary but amazing graphic novel series.

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Recommended for…

  • Fans of Stephen King
  • Fans of Neil Gaiman
  • Reading with a flashlight under a blanket on a school night *grin*

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Issues

  • Blood: depictions of blood
  • Death: references to character deaths
  • Deceit: characters actively hide their possessions and tools to trick others into believing they’re not doing anything illegal
  • Horror Elements: lots of spooky goings-on and scary images
  • Lying: characters lie to one another about what they’re doing and where they’re going
  • Other Illegal Activities: characters routinely break the law by going into closed-off regions
  • Swearing: some instances of swearing, including use of “fuck”
  • Violence: science fiction fighting and violence

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Themes

  • Death
  • Determination
  • Family
  • Good vs. Evil
  • Growing Up
  • Honesty
  • Identity
  • Mental Health
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Physical Health
  • Responsibility
  • Survival

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Grade

Main Character 2
Subcast 2
Setting Development 2
Exploration of Conflict 2
Satisfying Resolution 0
Consideration of Themes 2
Didactic Tone 2
Suspension of Disbelief 2
Imagery and Description 2
Compelling Storytelling 2
Author’s Style 2
Rhythm and Pace of Book 2
Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation) 2
Predictability 2
Reader Enjoyment 2
Total 28/30
93%

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