The Al­tered His­tory of Wil­low Sparks

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Graphic Novels -

Tara O’con­nor, Oni Press (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $19.99 (152pp) 978-1-62010-450-7

Tara O’con­nor de­liv­ers a cau­tion­ary tale for the high school set in her graphic novel, The Al­tered His­tory of Wil­low Sparks.

Wil­low Sparks, known to her friends as Willy, is a teenager who grap­ples with pop­u­lar­ity, gym class, and other typ­i­cal ado­les­cent trou­bles. Her life changes dra­mat­i­cally when, at her af­ter-school job at the lo­cal li­brary, she dis­cov­ers a se­cret col­lec­tion of “life books”—one for ev­ery per­son in town—that can be rewrit­ten to af­fect real events. Wil­low takes her book and ex­per­i­ments by al­ter­ing her life in ways that seem harm­less, but she soon finds that even the small­est changes have se­ri­ous un­in­tended con­se­quences.

The Al­tered His­tory of Wil­low Sparks reads as a kind of teenaged cousin to The Pic­ture of Do­rian Gray, but while Wil­low is in­tox­i­cated by her abil­ity to eas­ily change things, she’s also an­chored by her friends and fam­ily. They, and her own con­science, help Wil­low re­al­ize the er­ror of her ways be­fore it’s too late.

While the “be care­ful what you wish for” story line may not be star­tlingly orig­i­nal, O’con­nor’s ex­e­cu­tion is strong enough to over­come any ob­jec­tions to the plot. Her art­work bears a clean, sim­ple style that al­lows for de­tails as needed—the un­fash­ion­able cloth­ing choices of Wil­low’s best friend Ge­or­gia, for ex­am­ple—but doesn’t get bogged down in them, al­low­ing the eye to move smoothly from one panel to the next. O’con­nor makes it look easy, but rest as­sured, her tale has teeth.

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