Neal Barton just wants to read in peace. Unluckily for him, some local Christian activists are trying to get his favorite fantasy series banned from the Americus public library on grounds of immoral content and heresy. Something has to be done, and it looks like quiet, shy Neal is going to have to do it. With youth services librarian Charlotte Murphy at his back, Neal finds himself leading the charge to defend the mega-bestselling fantasy series that makes his life worth living.
This is a funny, gripping, and relatable tale of life and local politics in middle America,
“[Reed’s] ear for the speech of teenagers is especially sharp, rendering the scenes from high school the most consistently true-to-life and painfully hilarious in the book.” - The Comics Journal
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Indie comics writer and illustrator MK Reed lives in Brooklyn. She's an old hand at the self publishing scene but Americus is her first go-round with a big publisher.
Jonathan Hill is a cartoonist & illustrator living in Portland, Oregon. Americus is his first graphic novel.
Reading Group Guide
Americus is a graphic novel, a story told in words and pictures. How do you think this story would be told differently if it was a novel, with only words? How would it be different if it was a movie, with just pictures?
Go talk to your school librarian and public librarian. Have they ever had books from their libraries challenged? Do they have a policy in place to deal with challenges?
Banned Books Week is a celebration and awareness-raising week at the end of
September every year. Do you do anything to celebrate? What could you do?
Is your high school experience like Neal's? What do you think he could do to improve his situation?
Why do you think that people try to ban books? Can there be good (or at least wellmeaning)
attempts to get books banned? Are there any books you think should be banned? Entirely or just for certain people (like children)? Why?
Does the way religion is portrayed in this book match your own experiences with religion? What's the same? What's different?
The real world of Americus and the fantastical world of Apathea Ravenchilde in this book are in two different art styles. What effect does this have on the story?
Where do you think Neal's story goes after this? What about Danny's?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Neil Barton is your typical average teenager about to start high school...in other words he's a bit awkward, not really sure how to interact with girls, and still trying to find out who he is. But he is sure of one thing, "The Chronicles of Apathea Ravenchilde," is his favorite book series and he can't wait to read the latest volume. There's just one problem...his best friend's mom thinks that it's promoting witchcraft and wants it banned from the library! So in addition to trying to make new friends, navigate high school, he now has to step up and help make sure that Apathea is saved for all to read. Taken at face value this may seem like a simple tale, but in reality it's quite complex. On one hand you have Neil, a teenage boy about to start high school and attempting to figure out who he is. In this book he not only sees his best friend, Danny, sent to Military School, but he starts learning about how to interact with girls, how to stand up for himself, and what type of music is out in the world that defines and echos within his soul. And then on the other hand you have the battle to save the Apathea series from being banned by Christian activists in the town, and seeing the library and the community working together to prevent this. And one of the best aspects of the battle, for me, is that they depicted members of the community--young and old--discussing what the series had come to mean for them. And the author blends these two tales together to make a solid story. The author does a fantastic job of making Neil and most of the characters real people, someone that you could recognize off the street or someone that you might know...perhaps yourself. Where they falter a bit is the seemingly one dimensional side of Danny's mom and her friends. They mostly come across as stereotypical examples of Christian activists, without a lot of depth to them...although at times we do see flashes that there is more to Danny's mom than we think. We see that she really does care about her children, especially when she looks at pictures of them or the things that she says to her husband, and really does think she's doing what's right. And while it is a fault in the story that these characters don't have the depth of Neil or even Danny, the overall story is well told. I do want to point out that the author does an excellent job of depicting some of the battles that real libraries go through with "controversial" books. They have to band together and work with the community to explain the value of the book. And many times they do come up against people that haven't read the book, but want to ban it just because of their own assumptions upon the work--just like in the battle for Apathea. In many ways the battle for Apathea reminds me of what went on when Harry Potter first started hitting the big time in the states, and I wonder if the author and artist have based this book on personal experience. The artwork works well with the storyline and reminds me a lot of Bryan Lee O'Malley's work with Scott Pilgrim or the artworkof James Rugg in "The Plain Janes." The artwork has a seemingly simple style, but puts a lot of the focus into creating recognizable (and unique) characters that easily show emotion. It also makes it easier to place yourself in the story, because you can recognize something of yourself in the characters--the elation at starting a new school, fear, trepidation, or even being the obnoxious brat on campus. Even though the main character is a young teenage boy there's something for everyone in this story. It's a solid coming of age tale as well as chance to see just how important a book and the library can be to the overall community.
I enjoyed reading this story every time I read it. The artwork is simple, the story believable, adding to the book's charm. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys realistic fiction, or just fiction in genera.
I picked this up on a whim to possibly read to kill some time, and was captured by the story. So many elements of the story resonated for me either by actual experiences (maybe not as dramatic) or what has made the news with many other books (think of ... dare I mention "Harry Potter"?). It was very spot on regarding some people's bat sh*t crazy and misguided attacks on authors, subjects, and stories that they oppose. Growing up in a house of books (my mother was a librarian!) and trying to provide the same for my children, it struck a chord for me. The artwork was very good as well and fit with the story. My biggest question for the authors/artists; is there a sequal or series in mind? A large number of open continuations are there, just waiting to be expanded! Neil still has three plus years of school to go. I would love to read more with these characters and see Neil continue to grow. Give it a read! I think most, if not all, will enjoy it. It is cataloged or displayed as a "young adult" book, but I feel that it goes beyond that as well quite easily. Would certainly check out more from the author/artists!