CLOUD TOWN

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Newly uprooted to a nearby wealthy school, Pen and Olive rely on each other to survive. Anxious, academic Olive keeps Pen’s schoolwork on the straight and narrow. In return, hard-edged skater Pen protects Olive from the bullies who torment her. Troubles in their own lives, however, seem primed to push the girls apart. The rift between them only widens when an unexpected encounter with an escaped Hurricane under surveillance by the Care Corp reveals that Olive piloted the Storm Catcher that felled the creature. Not strong, capable Pen, but Olive, who’s afraid of everything. McCloskey’s debut graphic novel is a story of compatibility and divergence as two friends explore and adapt beyond the confines of their relationship and their own self-imposed limitations. Pen, with her troubled home life, is given the more developed backstory of the two whereas Olive has more character growth, gradually overcoming her insecurities and gaining both confidence and independence. Spending as much of the story at odds as they do, it is difficult to believe that the girls, whose personalities are not particularly complementary, were ever truly close; however, that does not detract from readers’ investment in their physical and emotional journeys. A limited color palette and viscerally detailed, dynamic art style vividly illustrate the rich quasi-dystopian world. Pen has Afro-textured hair, while Olive reads as White.

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