The Summer Hikaru Died, Vol. 1

Yen Pr. (The Summer Hikaru Died). Vol. 1. Jul. 2023. 180p. tr. from Japanese by Ajani Oloye . pap. $15. ISBN 9781975360542.
Gr 8 Up–Six months ago, Hikaru went missing after taking a mysterious trip to the mountains. When he reappeared a week later, it became very clear to his friend Yoshiki that this current incarnation of Hikaru is not the one he’d always known—and he’s right. Whatever “Hikaru” is, he admits he’s using the boy’s body to live as a human for the first time. And if Yoshiki spills this secret, “Hikaru” promises to kill him. Yoshiki’s fine with this arrangement, as he would do anything to keep the friend he once had at his side. But when strange occurrences begin to happen around town, Yoshiki begins to wonder if his “friend” is behind it. Easily one of 2023’s best manga, the story oozes eeriness, absolutely grabbing the attention of readers as it toggles between ordinary daily life and unusual phenomena. While the story mostly takes a leisurely pace, when it hits readers with thrilling happenings, wow do they land. The art is great, with Hikaru’s facial expressions genuinely adding to a chilling vibe all throughout the book. There is evidence of a possible queer romance, but it is not explored deeply in this first volume. While there is plenty of mystery to go around within this series opener, the title makes sure to emphasize that there’ll be more to dole out in ensuing volumes. The series is off to a great start, cementing itself early as one educators should add to their libraries.
VERDICT A spine-tingling title with queer overtones that is guaranteed to engross readers from the get-go and continue to keep them guessing.

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