The Broken Vow: Spill Zone, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Broken Vow: Spill Zone, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Tough sisters battle other-dimension beasts in trippy tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows the city of Poughkeepsie, New York, after parts of it have been catastrophically altered. Shows female main characters taking charge. 

Positive Messages

Family members need to stick together in times of trouble. Young women can be formidable opponents in battle.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Features especially strong female main characters. Addison, a tough-minded survivor of a mysterious disaster, is brave, resourceful, protective of her younger sister. She's able to stand up to the possessed rag doll Vespertine, the U.S. Army, and an invasion by beasts from another dimension. Her sister, Lexa, is more proactive in this installment, rather than a mysterious, damaged victim.

Violence

A villain is killed with a poisoned dart. Interdimensional animals chase Addison and Lexa through the Zone.

Sex

Lexa wonders whether her older sister is hooking up with Wiley. An animated doll is betrothed to a giant wolf-monster.

Language

Swearing includes up to a dozen uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus an equal measure of "hell" and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the villains smokes cigarettes. Wiley and Addison seem to share a bottle of wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Broken Vow is the second volume of a science fiction/horror graphic novel series by Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies and co-author of Zeroes. It continues the adventures of sisters Addison and Lexa, who are dealing with the consequences of an interdimensional civil war. The level of violence is low (a death by poison dart, bloodless deaths of people trapped in the Zone), and there's only a hint of sex-related talk. Strong language includes up to a dozen uses of "f--k" and "s--t" plus an equal measure of "hell" and "damn."

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What's the story?

As THE BROKEN VOW begins, Addison collects $1 million for her photographs taken within the Zone, where monsters from another dimension prowl. She wants to take the money and run to Hawaii or some other luxurious place, but her sister, Alexa, insists that her possessed doll, Vespertine, needs to stay in Poughkeepsie to "recharge." When a new threat emerges from the Zone, the sisters must confront beings with incredible powers and hope that they don't destroy two worlds at once.

Is it any good?

It's not always clear what's going on in this trippy graphic novel, but there's plenty of action and intrigue to engage fans of science fiction and fantasy. Author Scott Westerfeld and illustrator Alex Puvilland continue to work well together, the sometimes psychedelic artwork complementing the X-Files-esque plot. One point worth discussing is that the main characters, with one major exception, seem to be white, while the villainous supporting cast mostly seems to be people of color. The creators leave a few loose ends, but this volume ends on a note of resolution. Westerfeld proves that he's as adept in the medium of comics as he is with straight-ahead prose, and his many fans won't be disappointed by his experiment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Broken Vow and how it fits within the tradition of apocalyptic literature. Why do readers enjoy stories about frightening futures?

  • How does The Broken Vow work as a graphic novel? Are some stories better suited to comics than to prose?

  • How is violence used in The Broken Vow? Does it resolve anything or simply make matters worse?

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