Monday, July 08, 2019

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/6/19

This week I have one book: a middle-grade graphic novel coming from Little, Brown in January 2020.

In fact, it's so far in the future that some of the art isn't final, which is fascinating to me. (My guess: this was created for the recent BookExpo -- which I still want to call ABA, since that's what it was called back when I had a job in book publishing -- and so they went with the feature-complete version available at the time.) The eventual book will be in full-color, but this proof is entirely black-and-white: some sequences, scattered throughout, are fully-rendered with shading and tones, while a lot of the book is in an intermediate line-art format. It looks like all of the captions are final and in place, showing one way digital production has changed how comics are made: that used to be the very last thing.

This is interesting because it's exactly like when a prose book has an unedited (or midway-through-editing) version dumped into proof form, and I haven't seen a graphic-novel example of that before. (Back in my SFBC days, it was rare but not unknown to get a "bound galley" that was shot straight from the manuscript pages -- totally unedited but easier to read than a stack of loose pages. And most galleys have a "this text is not final" warning on them somewhere.)

Anyway, this is a neat moment-in-time artifact even before I get into the usual book stuff, like the story.

The book is The Deep & Dark Blue, by Niki Smith, whose sexy book Crossplay got some attention last year. (Full disclosure: I thought it sounded interesting, but I haven't read it or seen it.) Deep is a fantasy adventure of some kind, with tween twins hiding after a coup shatters their ruling house. They also may be hiding under different gender identities, though the descriptive copy doesn't make that clear -- their real names are Hawke and Grayson, their in-hiding names are Hanna and Grayce, and there's a reference to one of them wanting to "finally live as a girl." That's one story strand, I expect, with the beating-the-usurpers as probably equally or more important. I don't see any sign that this is "Book 1 of X" but that's always a possibility.

So this is for tweens, and about tweens, with the usual magic and adventure but probably also an element that will make the usual complainers grump loudly about it. For some of us, that's a good reason to take a second look at it: anything those people are likely to hate has to have something going for it.

Unfortunately, most of you will have to wait until January to check it out!

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