Publisher's Note:  

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone.

The Spill claimed Addison’s parents and scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn’t spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone's twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death?or worse.

When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival and ventures farther than she has ever dared. Within the Spill Zone, Hell awaits?and it seems to be calling Addison's name.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by First Second Books

Spill Zone

by Scott Westerfeld

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Overall Review:  

The Spill Zone is an interestingly creepy, science-fiction, graphic novel by the author of Leviathan and Uglies.

The "Spill Zone" is a devastated area in uptown New York where an unexplained event wiped out an entire city, leaving behind a place that warps reality within its borders. The area has been quarantined from the world, and no one is allowed to go into the Zone. There are military checkpoints set up to prevent trespassing.

But Addison Merritt lost both her parents in the Spill and is left along with just her little sister, Lexa, who was also caught in the Spill and somehow survived, but hasn't spoken since that day. To make ends meet, Addison ventures illegally into the Zone, taking pictures of the Zone's phenomena and the creatures that live there and selling the photographs for profit. Then someone comes along and offers her a substantial sum of money if she'll go into the Zone and retrieve something that's been hidden in the hospital where Addie's parents died.

This was a strange, but interesting, book. It was a quick read with a killer cliffhanger that didn't answer any questions but opened up a whole slew of others, and while I found Addison herself to be a bit too brassy for my taste, her little sister, Lexa, was adorable and I loved her. I will be honest and say I didn't find the drawings hugely attractive. Addie is said to be "gorgeous," and I didn't get that impression from looking at the pictures. However, there IS a lot of attention to detail, and I really liked Addie's "Zone clothes," which looked very Explorer-ish and cool. But the style itself felt a little spare, particularly in regards to the people, and the Zone's coloring was hard to follow. The palette made everything bright and washed out, and sometimes it was hard for me to see exactly what was the focus of the layout.  I have been reading an awful lot of Manga, though, and overall I tend to find Manga drawings and layouts a little more aesthetically pleasing. (It also took me a few tries to read this correctly, since I HAVE been reading an awful lot of Manga which is read right to left instead of American left to right. So don't make that mistake and you'll have an easier time of it.) But overall this was an interesting read, very sci-fi and unusual, and the drawings were fun to examine, and again, the ending was killer!

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation; 15 mild obscenities; 26 scatological words; 4 anatomical terms; 14 F-Word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  A character crashes her motorbike through a barrier; a character explores a devastated town; characters of flashbacks of people in violent situations; a character passes by creepy "meat puppets" (zombies); a character is chased by a horrific monster; a character crashes her bike and takes a tumble; characters examine photographs taken of the Spill Zone (a destroyed city containing strange phenomena and dangers); characters discus property damage; there is some disturbing imagery of a disemboweled deer; a character is followed; characters are said to spend lives to discover the cause of a disease; a character punches another; it is implied a character was caught in another Spill; a character fears she might not make it back home; a character faces frightening/dangerous situations in an abandoned building; a character confronts a nightmarish creature; characters fight, with some pushing and shouting. 

Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death of family members, military presence, trespassing, sci-fi phenomena, Underage drinking, selling illegal photographs.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

An underage character goes to a bar and has a few drinks; two characters drink champagne (one underage); characters (military personnel) smoke cigarettes.

Reviewed By Katrina
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