A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
Becoming powerful enough to do something about injustice and unfairness can be thrilling, but when your actions come from anger they can get out of control and do more harm than good. It might seem like your life would be so much better and easier if you found a place to fit in, but how worth it is fitting in if it comes at a high cost to your values or your self-image?
Positive Role Models
Narrator Becca is understandable because we see that socially and emotionally she's dealing with a lot. But she handles it by joining a clique and changing who and what she is in order to fit in somewhere and finally have friends. The group of friends she joins are teen werewolves who go from killing sexual predators out of sense of protecting women and exacting justice, to using their sexuality to lure men who aren't sexual predators to secluded spots where they can be killed and eaten. There are no positive male role models.
Narrator Becca is asked if she's various Asian races but doesn't answer. She gay, but evasive about it until a romance begins. One of her circle of friends is Black and the other two read as White. Illustrations show a range of skin tones and hair types in the student body, and the AP Chemistry teacher is a Black woman. There's a positive depiction of a same-sex romance. One opposite-sex relationship is a negative example with a boy who's an entitled, self-absorbed bully and a girl who uses the relationship to gain status.
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Violence & Scariness
Illustrations show sexual assault with grabbing, groping, and trying to kiss, with dialogue that shows trying to pressure someone into having sex. One assault shows an unconscious teen being caressed or groped behind a dumpster. Werewolves kill by biting and eat their human victims. They also fight among themselves with biting and clawing. Blood and gore are illustrated. A huge push knocks someone down, blood is shown dripping from their nose, ears, and mouth; the person dies. Violence is paired with sensuality when werewolves return to their human forms naked after committing violent acts. Sensitive body parts are covered by long hair or body position, but nudity is clearly implied. One character mentions "it" (blood or gore) getting into her hair. After two werewolves feed on a human they return to human form nude and are illustrated in a "spooning" position.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several illustrations of kissing. A couple kiss lying on a bed fully clothed. Lots of implied nudity with no sensitive parts shown. A teen invites herself to join a couple who are kissing. Violence is paired with sensuality when werewolves return to their human forms naked after committing violent acts. One illustration shows a naked couple in a "spooning" position after committing violent acts as werewolves. No sensitive parts are shown.
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"F--k," "d--k" (name calling and body part), "s--t," "bitchy," "ass," "a--face," and "slore" (slut and whore combined). A lewd sexual gesture using fingers and tongue is illustrated.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens are frequently shown drinking to excess at parties, including an illustration of a kegstand. Drunken behavior is shown. One character passes out. The only consequences are related to the plot or to sexual assault.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Squad is a graphic novel about an all-girl pack of teen werewolves. Bloody and gory illustrations show the werewolves biting, clawing, killing humans (only men) and eating their remains. There are several scenes of sexual assault that use pictures and dialogue to imply groping, forced kisses, and verbal pressure to have sex. One scene implies an unconscious woman is being groped behind a dumpster. An accidental murder from pushing too hard shows blood dripping from nose, mouth, and ears. There's a positive same-sex romance with kissing, once while lying on a bed fully clothed. One teen implies a threesome by asking to join two others who are kissing. Teens are often depicted drinking heavily at parties, including a "kegstand," with negative consequences related to the story. Mostly through negative examples, the book provides a lot of food for thought about friendship, feminism, power, status, double standards, vigilante justice, microagression, privilege, prejudice, and more.
Is It Any Good?
Horror fans will enjoy this take on teen-werewolf theme for the way it showcases girl power, friendship and loyalty, but some iffy messages are problematic. Squad points out a lot of frustrations, dangers, and problems people deal with every day, and which teens will easily relate to, but it doesn't offer any real-world solutions. Negative examples offer a lot of food for thought, and good conversation starters about microagression, victim blaming, sexual predators, double standards, prejudice, how women are depicted in pop culture, and more. The colorful illustrations effectively show both action and emotion in a classice style with a retro, '80s color scheme. Gory violence, strong language, and excessive drinking make it best for teens and up.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.