/ Cory Doctorow / 3 am Tue, May 2 2017
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  • Spill Zone: fast-paced, spooky YA comic about the haunted ruins of Poughkeepsie

    Spill Zone: fast-paced, spooky YA comic about the haunted ruins of Poughkeepsie

    In Spill Zone, YA superstar Scott "Uglies" Westerfeld and artist Alex Puvilland tell the spooky, action-packed tale of Addison, one of the few survivors of the mysterious events that destroyed Poughkeepsie, New York, turning it into a spooky, Night-Vale-ish place where mutant animals, floating living corpses, and people trapped in two-dimensional planes live amid strange permanent winds that create funnels of old electronics and medical waste.

    Addison is the sole guardian of her little sister Lexa, who was close enough to the mysterious eruption that she has been rendered mute, though she is in psychic communication with a Raggedy Ann doll, and, possibly, her sister. Addison supports the two of them by illegally riding into the heart of the Spill Zone on her tricked out motorcycle, armed with only an SLR camera, which she uses to take contraband photos of the wonders of the Spill Zone, sold on the underground to a network of highly specialized collectors.

    But Poughkeepsie isn't the only Spill Zone: there are rumors of another, cloaked by the Iron Curtain that walls off North Korea from the rest of the world. Addison finds herself trying to balance caring for her baby sister, wondering how far she can trust her crooked dealer, and trying to fool the soldier-boy who was once her school chum but is now in charge of keeping her out of the Spill Zone -- and before long, she is in the thick of things, breaking all of her rules, playing for higher stakes than ever before.

    Addison is seemingly modelled on Elena, the viral sensation of 2007, who claimed to have ridden her motorcycle into Pripyat, the Ukrainian no-man's land evacuated after the Chernobyl meltdown, returning with reels of spectacular and haunting photos of the ruins.

    But the ruins of Pripyat are nothing compared to the Spill Zone of Westerfeld and Puvilland's imaginations, which conjure up horrors that are one part Outer Limits, one part Clive Barker. With admirable economy, the story sets up its main characters, imbuing them with complicated and fascinating quirks and ambiguities, and then sets them in motion, in combination and competition with one another, in a story that starts fast and only speeds up from there.

    This is book one, and it ends on a cliffhanger that left me panting for more. Be warned!

    Spill Zone [Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland/First Second]

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