BWW Review: SPILL ZONE by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland

Scott Westerfeld will be in NYC promoting SPILL ZONE

***THIS FRIDAY, May 19th!!!***

He'll be at Kinokuniya Books, located at 1073 6th Avenue, at 6:30 p.m.

Call 212-869-1700 for further details.

He'll also be in Upstate New York

***THIS THURSDAY, May 18th!!!***

He'll be at Oblong Books (6420 Montgomery Street) in Rhinebeck, NY at 6 p.m.

Scott Westerfeld is the New York Times Best Selling Author of several YA novels, including the popular Uglies series. All of his books are wildly different from one another, yet all have a slant of sci-fi and the unexplainable in them. His new release, SPILL ZONE, is unique in many ways.

To begin with, it's his first graphic novel. Sure, Uglies was turned into a graphic novel, but not until it was already a successful book series. SPILL ZONE was the first series created specifically for the medium and not previously published. He's joined by artist Alex Puvilland (Templar, Prince of Persia) and colorist Hilary Sycamore (Battling Boy, The Shade) to bring the series together and really make it shine.

For another, you can read the entire first book online right now. For free. Legally. The series began as an online web comic, and came out as a tangible hardcover to keep on the shelf earlier this month...the same day the final pages were published online. The second volume will begin serializing on Spill Zone's website this coming October, but won't be available in hardcover until July 2018.

The inspiration behind SPILL ZONE is quite ambitious. As Westerfeld states on the Spill Zone website the day he premieres the series:

In 2004, a Ukrainian photojournalist named Elena Filatova (aka KiddofSpeed) blogged an account of her illicit motorcycle journeys through the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the area blighted by history's worst nuclear accident. Her photos and writing were elegiac and apocalyptic, evoking the otherworldliness of the forsaken city of Pripyat. But once the posts went viral, certain discrepancies were noted, and Filatova admitted that her accounts were "more poetry than reality."

In short, she might have taken a tour bus. You see, it's pretty easy to get into the Exclusion Zone these days.

But the poetic version stuck with me-a woman on a motorcycle, a camera, an empty and dangerous world.

I've always been a sucker for tales about exploring broken, abandoned terrain. As a kid I was an "urban explorer," though we didn't have that term back then. I spelunked the buildings at my upstate New York college, and I've explored abandoned sites in and around NYC since. There's nothing quite like the silent loneliness of a place that has been abandoned, restricted, and left to ruin. In these spaces, the usual rules don't apply. It feels as if the laws of physics don't either.

So what if they really were a slice of another world?

That's what Spill Zone is about. The ways that disasters, canny or uncanny, change the spaces that they take place in. And the ways that we survivors become explorers of those ruined spaces, picking them apart with memories, stories, and art.

My heroine, Addison Merritt, isn't just taking strange photographs. She's rebuilding after the fall.

From the beginning, readers are taken into an eerie world, one that is both strange and familiar. The setting is grounded in reality: What would happen if something disastrous occured, destroying a small city in Upstate New York? What if that area became uninhabitable? Is it due to nuclear fallout? Is it due to something outside the realm of imagination, such as aliens or fairies? Is it something else altogether? What happens to the survivors who are orphaned, or maimed, or injured in other ways?

SPILL ZONE follows Addison and her younger sister Lexa. Both of them are survivors, though they were orphaned during the incident. Lexa hasn't talked since that day. To make money, Addison risks her life by repeatedly going to the Spill and taking photographs of the weird abominations now habitant the area she once called home. Her adventures get more dangerous when she's offered a million dollars to go into a hospital--despite her rule to never go inside.

To make matters even stranger, a nearly identical phenomenon occurred across the world at nearly the same time...and the sole survivor, Don Jae, has traveled to New York to meet with Addison and try to get to the bottom of what's been going on.

The first volume features eerie illustrations that are at times disturbing and creepy, but never overly graphic. They add ambiance and atmosphere. In a way, I have the same emotions I had when reading the graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. The bodies left behind in the Spill have mutated in horrifying ways, as have the animals still roaming the streets. At the same time, there are really cool areas such as Flatsville, where everything has become 2-D and flat. If you touch anything in the area, you'll be sucked in and become flat for eternity yourself, stuck on the ground. I think the creepiest aspect so far is the doll that Lexa brought out of the Spill with her. They can communicate mind to mind and the doll knows things she isn't telling--and may be part of the phenomenon that created the Spill in the first place.

If you're looking for something creepy and new from the master of YA sci-fi, check out Scott Westerfeld's new project SPILL ZONE today!

SPILL ZONE by Scott Westerfeld was published on May 2, 2017 by First Second Books // Macmillan.

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