Del Duca, Leila. Afar. Kit Seaton, Illus. Graphic novel. Image, 04/2017. pp. PB $14.99. 978-1-63215-941-0. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 7-12.
Afar, an original, stand-alone graphic novel written by an all-female creative team, tells the fantasy adventure of 15-year-old Boetema and her younger brother, Inotu, who are forced to survive alone after their parents leave town in search of work. While struggling to survive, Boetema also begins to develop a mysterious, confusing ability to transport her spirit between worlds as a universal spirit traveler. Her developing powers bring her both trouble and adventure; she soon realizes that her actions in other worlds can carry heavy consequences for which she must hold herself accountable. In a secondary storyline, Inotu experiences troubles of his own, leading the siblings to take on more responsibility and grow together as a team. By individualizing the storylines of Boetema and Inotu, each is allowed to develop into a strong, full character. What’s more, Afar showcases a vibrant cast of people of color and features elements of North African and Middle Eastern cultures in the world’s arid, post-industrial environment which Inotu considers not “as fun as pre-storm history.” The book’s storytelling is original and fantastical but can feel choppy at times, possibly because the complex adventure is condensed into a 168-page graphic novel. Regardless, Seaton’s fantastical illustrations of arid lands and vivid alien worlds make this is a great addition to library collections. Review based on an ARC.
Diana Learned, San Jose