In this kingdom there are two sides: Inside and Outside. Those on the Outside are cursed and can infect those from the inside. Those living on the Inside live behind tall walls and search for anyone who may be “infected” in order to banish them to the Outside. Shiva is a young girl who was suspected of being infected, and now lives Outside, eagerly waiting for the day her aunt will come retrieve her. She lives with Teacher, an Outsider who is very careful not to touch Shiva or allow her to touch him. The two forage for food, chop firewood, have tea parties, and read stories to pass the time. Teacher knows no one is coming for Shiva and struggles with how to keep her alive and happy.
The beginning of this story is a bit sweet and innocent, but that soon fades as the author reveals the dark nature of what’s really going on. Shiva is a lovely little girl who is just looking for entertainment, which usually leads to her breaking rules. Teacher is pretty paranoid because these rules are keeping Shiva safe, so this creates a lot of tension for most of the book. This first volume is fairly heartbreaking and leaves off on a pretty shocking cliffhanger, so most readers are going to be clamoring for the second volume right away.
The art for this story is very inexact and contains a lot of jumbled lines. It's slightly chaotic. Despite all of this, Nagabe uses some immense control on these disparate elements to convey his storyline. Shiva is illustrated adorably, but the world around her is pretty spooky.
There's nothing in the first volume that makes this inheriently inappropriate for younger grades, but the overall atmosphere of the story is pretty dark, and the Outsiders can be a bit scary for younger readers.
Sara's Rating: 9/10
Suitability Level: Grades 7-12
Publisher: Seven Seas
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
ISBN: 9781626924673 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Supernatural, Survival, Seven Seas
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I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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