FICTION

The Unsound

illus. by Jack T. Cole. 160p. Boom! May 2018. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781684151783.
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Gr 9 Up-It's Ashli's first day at St. Cascia. Underfunded and understaffed, the mental institution is overcrowded with patients, but working at the hospital as a nurse gives Ashli the opportunity to help others, the one thing she wants to do above all else. As a masked patient named Xerxes taunts her, she begins experiencing strange hallucinations and finding loose razor blades everywhere. The patients riot and force Ashli and several of the staff to run for their lives. Ashli's surroundings only become more surreal as Xerxes reveals that their current predicament is connected to a tragedy from her past. Is there more to what's going on, or has Ashli lost her mind? In this topsy-turvy world, nothing is quite as it seems. Cole's visuals depict horrific hellscapes that threaten the characters' sanity—unseen dangers lurk around every corner. The palette is muted and dark and the illustrations slightly out of focus. Images of self-harm and mutilation may be too intense for—and potentially trigger—some readers.
VERDICT A good supplemental addition to graphic novel collections aimed at teens.-Ryan P. Donovan, Southborough Public Library, MA

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