Stranger Things it is not.
I grabbed this book off the shelf at my local library purely for the cover art. Holy shit I adore the style and colorization choices in this cover. The art throughout this book is really in your face and gorgeous, it’s almost worth picking up just for that. Almost.
Four best friends, the Sick Sisters (aka Ellen, Nancy, Veronica and Ashley), are the badasses of their tiny Ohio town. It’s 1983 and aside from dealing with the normal pressures of growing up, crushes on friends and absentee parents, they’re dealing with an even bigger issue; disappearances. When the book begins, a fourth teenager from their area has gone missing and it seems like the police aren’t bothering to check out any leads. When one of their own is taken, the girls decide to take matters into their own hands and discover a massive conspiracy, a cover-up, and monsters overtaking their small town.
I was really excited for this, as there’s nothing I love more than confident ladies and the 80s, but this book was a little TOO Stranger Things, even for me. To be honest, it was a LOT Stranger Things. A group of kids going off on their own to fight a giant monster (that legit looks to have the same face as a Demogorgon) after their most innocent and naive member gets taken was a bit too on the nose for me to get into. I know this is a specifically personal issue with the book, as someone who hasn’t seen Stranger Things wouldn’t even notice this, but it very much stuck out to me.
A broader issue was the pacing. The story is composed of 5 issues which make up one volume and honestly it’s not enough. Just as I was getting interested in the story and the conspiracy theories about it, we suddenly jump through the build up and conclusion in about 20 pages. Nothing felt like it paid off or was earned because of how quickly everything went down. There’s a self sacrifice at a point in the book and I just shrugged through it because the character hadn’t spent enough time with our main protagonist for me to really feel emotional about their demise, which is disappointing. There is also a hint of romance throughout the issues, which should culminate in a scene at the end of the book, but there is SO LITTLE offered about this relationship between our protagonist and a character we learn literally nothing about, I felt totally devoid of emotion at their final scene together.
I looked up the author and I read another book by her, Vagrant Queen, and if I remember correctly I had similar issues with that story; awesome idea, muddy in execution. Still worth picking up if you see it on the shelf, especially for the art work, but I wouldn’t rush out to read or buy it.
Title: Morning in America
Author: Magdalene Visaggio // Claudia Aguirre (Illustrator)
Three Descriptors: Bold, Snarky, Rushed