Averee lives in a world that relies on the Ranked social media app for all aspects of life, from who you can befriend, where you go to school, where you can live, and where you can work. One day Averee and her mother discover that their rank has dropped drastically; her mom can’t get into work and Averee can’t access the good food at school. After the police basically say they can’t do anything to help, Averee starts trying to track down the person behind the Prettykitty mascot with the help of her friends, Luke and Zoe.

Once they track the creator down, Averee and her friends discover that the Ranked company hasn’t been honest with its customers and are using the information they’ve collected as well as their platform to influence people’s decisions. The trio must escape and share what they’ve learned before the company silences them. 

Although this book isn’t telling a new story, or even a new angle on that story, I’m not sure that there are many graphic novel versions of it. Also, the artwork was stunning and makes it worth adding to your collection. The story has good pacing and the characters’ interactions are realistic and show great emotion. This would do well in a juvenile collection, as young patrons become more and more inundated with social media and technology. It would also do well in a young adult collection that has readers at a lower reading level. 

By Stephanie Phillips, Dave Johnson
Art by Marika Cresta
A Wave Blue World, 2021
ISBN: 9781949518122
Publisher Age Rating: grade 7-9

NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Teen (13-16), Tween (10-13)

Kismet: Man of Fate

Kismet was the first Muslim superhero in comics. From Algeria, he first appeared in 1944 in Bomber Comics to fight Nazis behind enemy lines in World War II. Created by the pseudonymous Omar Tahan, after four issues, he disappeared from the comics arena as abruptly as he arrived. The character was rediscovered in 2007 by Bostonian academic (and Muslim convert) A. David Lewis, who revitalized and reworked the character to reflect contemporary problems. These problems, unfortunately, are the same issues facing the original Kismet: discrimination, prejudice, ignorance, the newly labeled alt-right, and the upsurge of Nazism. Kismet reappears in Boston, fused with activist Qadar Hussein in a deadly fight, and allied with Qadar’s sister Deena and her friend Rabia. With the death of Qadar, Kismet continues to invest his energies to fighting these unremitting evils. His superpower is his ability to see momentarily and instantaneous into the future, only enough to dodge an attack but not long enough to delve into impending actions.

The city of Boston is an active character in this volume through the contemporary landmarks and activities. Along with the strong and proud Muslim identification of the protagonist, this Boston is filled with citizens that are principally minorities and/or female. This Boston is unapologetically interracial and filled with characters of varied religious and sexual identities coexisting to bring the city alive and operational. There are no stereotypes here. Kismet is a man out of the past, but soon, with the aid of his friends, becomes a fighting force for social and political activism.

I found the illustrations muddy with a distinct partiality to dark backgrounds interspersed with infrequent brilliant splashes of reds and greens. Facial expressions are often hinted at rather than clear and I had difficulty at times differentiating characters. At the same time, however, the story arc was easy to follow and the solid characters rose above the muddiness to deliver a strong picture of today’s American society through the eyes of the past. The graphic novel is action packed and very relevant—public libraries for sure and high schools as well would benefit from having it in their collections.

Kismet: Man of Fate
By A. David Lewis
Art by Noel Tuazon
ISBN: 9781949518009
A Wave Blue World, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: Adult

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Character Traits: Neurodivergent, Multiracial, Lesbian, Genderqueer