i've been doing a lot of reading so far this summer. part of it has to do with moving closer to the library, part of it has to do with my father's untimely passing (i had to do something other than cry, and when i couldn't sleep i read), and part of it is just how i like to spend my summers. for years i've lamented missing out on summer reading programs just because i'm a grown-up, but this year i discovered my library has a grown-up summer reading program! by writing review of books i read, i can win fun stuff like dinners and free coffee. i might review away here all summer long!
black hole by charles burns is a comic book, or graphic novel, if you prefer. i don't mind calling it a comic, i think comics are awesome, but not everyone feels the same way. whatever you call it, it's about a group of teens in seattle in the 70's that are dealing with various issues of adolescence as well as a strange sexually transmitted disease that turns them into monsters. some become fairly obviously disfigured; one kids looks like teenwolf while another grows huge boils all over their face. some are less noticeable, like the girl with a tail, or the one who sheds her skin. the hows and whys of the disease, how the public is reacting are all parts of the story that burns spends the least amount of time on. he just lays it out that this is how you get it, this is how it looks on some, and that's all. the real focus is on the teens themselves; their relationships with their families and each other. the sense of loneliness and isolation burns captures is palpable as well as nostalgic. the issues and diseases of one's own youth may differ, but the feelings are timeless. the alienation, the awkwardness, the bright hope of being young and earnest. the art itself is also gorgeous. how it can be so stark and lush at the same time is beyond me. it's very visually appealing and strong, and compliments the text beautifully. it's a bit melancholy, sometimes funny, and thoroughly unforgettable. if you run into this book at the library or the bookstore, i'd highly recommend it. even if you aren't a huge fan of comics or graphic novels, if you were ever a teen you should read it. (it will also appeal to anyone who's ever lived in seattle. the city references are great!)