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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Greed and the Hero

from graphic novel guest blogger Francisca Goldsmith:

Blending genres in fiction can have the same enriching and expansive effect that blending varietals or spices allow. Sometimes the mixture goes wrong because the blending leaves a neither-this-nor-that overtone; the best blends, however, offer subtleties missing from “pure” strains.

Bloody Chester is that special latter sort, in which the Western and the historical and the horror and the romance are pulled into a bouquet that is exquisite and more than simply palatable. The theme of greed bubbles up through individual characters’ personas, as well as through culture-wide value systems of the period.  Instead of allowing Chester to turn his back on Native American sensibilities as fully human—which many Western writers do through either choice or historic blindness—Chester is horrified to learn that the “animals” on whom a miser has performed medical experiments are, indeed, humans.  Yet his outrage doesn’t verge into an anachronism for his own period: he simply sees and understands and won’t justify, but we are spared sermons or Monday morning cultural quarterbacking.

With a summer publishing date, this title seems to be available fairly widely already, making it an easy end of school year booktalk, gift or anticipation.  An excellent complement to old television Westerns, current horror flicks and science fiction about the exquisitely brilliant loner.

PETTY, JT. Bloody Chester. illus. by Hilary Florido. 142p. First Second. July 2012. Tr $18.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-100-3. LC 2011030042.  Bloody Chester

Adult/High School–In this finely tuned genre blending of historical, Western, and horror fiction, readers are swept along as young Chester Kates (who appears and acts as though he’s in his late teens) takes on a dangerous job after effectively being run out of one Wild West town. On assignment, he finds that where he’s been sent is nearly a ghost town, its populace ravaged by some mysterious plague. And even cynical Chester is beginning to see what look like ghosts in the trees. Character development, plotting, and the careful balance of narrative regaled in words and communicated through expressive and colorful cartoons make this a complete package of adventure. The bad men have surprisingly human sides, Chester has plenty of female attention, and his own horror grows as his ethical base is tweaked by the reality that he finally discerns behind the “plague.” In the end, like many a good Western, the hero rides off, leaving the promise to those he deserts that the “railroad’s coming,” a promise that he knows carries the threat of more greed and violence.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.