A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spill Zone is the first volume of a science fiction/horror graphic novel series by Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies and co-author of Zeroes. The book is set in an abandoned part of Poughkeepsie, New York. Main character Addison, a tough-minded teen photographer who's survived a mysterious disaster known as the Spill, is chased by various monsters in the Zone, but there's little actual violence. Characters under stress swear fairly frequently (variants of "s--t" and "f--k," plus single uses of "crap," "hell," "ass," and "d--khead"). Sexual content is limited to mild flirting. The main character drinks a glass of champagne, and Army troops smoke on duty.
What's the story?
As SPILL ZONE opens, teen photographer Addison is making unauthorized excursions into an abandoned part of Poughkeepsie, New York. No one knows what happened to the city that night when everything changed, but Addison is determined to bring back images that depict the ongoing craziness. A survivor of the Spill, Addie's younger sister Alexa rarely speaks but psychically communes with a bizarre doll named Vespertine. Addie has the chance to earn $1 million for her work, but is the payday worth the otherworldly danger?
Is it any good?
This eerie sci-fi thriller raises a lot of compelling questions and provides a few tantalizing answers as the series begins. In Spill Zone, author Scott Westerfeld does a great job of setting up potential plot complications for Addison and her sister Lexa and then amping up the level of suspense. The ruins of the Zone are filled with bizarre creatures and potential traps, and readers are likely to care deeply for Addie's safety as she attempts to maneuver them.
Alex Puvilland's artwork is suitably creepy, and his storytelling choices enhance the power of the narrative. The story ends with a revelatory cliffhanger, and comics fans and sci-fi enthusiasts will want to read the next volume as soon as possible.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Spill Zone adds elements of science fiction to everyday reality. How does imagining a different future shed light on the present?
How can siblings work together together to protect each other in difficult times?
In the face of a natural disaster, what's the value of art?
- Author: Scott Westerfeld
- Illustrator: Alex Puvilland
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: First Second
- Publication date: May 2, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 10, 2020
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