Poison Ivy: Thorns

Kody Keplinger, illus. by Sara Kipin. DC Comics, $16.99 paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-4012-9842-5
Outside of class, Pamela Isley, coded as white, spends her time at Huxley High School’s greenhouse (donated to the school by her mother) and at home involved in secret biological experiments with her obsessive scientist father. While Pamela’s ill mother remains absent for most of the book, her influence on Pamela is evident. The teen also cares deeply for a local park set to be deforested, resolves to stand up for herself against a boy’s repeated harassment, and excels at the sciences. But despite her father’s warnings that drawing unwanted attention will jeopardize their experiments, Pamela releases a toxic gas to stall construction and opens up to peer Alice, who helps Pamela navigate her harassment and household pressures as the two teens fall in love. Keplinger’s narrative feels hollow, reiterating plot points, relying on dialogue, and implying, rather than exploring, major character motivations. In thin lines and cinematic sequences, though, Kipin uses mundane moments, such as chemistry class, to showcase science-minded Pamela’s joy; colorist Jeremy Lawson, meanwhile, smartly juxtaposes the reds of Pamela’s hair and flowers against muted earth tones. Though Keplinger’s overreliance on narrative tropes leaves the ending feeling unearned, Kipin and Lawson’s visuals delight. Ages 13–up. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/29/2021
Release date: 06/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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