Fiction, Graphic Novel, March 2020

Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn

Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn. February 7, 2020. DC Ink, 208 p. ISBN: 9781401289782.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Cassandra Cain, teenage assassin, isn’t exactly Batgirl material…yet. Will she step out of the shadows and overcome her greatest obstacle–that voice inside her head telling her she can never be a hero?

Lucky for Cass, she won’t have to defy her destiny alone. With the help of her new mentors, noodle shop owner Jackie Fujikawa Yoneyama and a librarian named Barbara Gordon, she’ll attempt to answer this question the only way she knows how: learning everything she possibly can about her favorite hero. The only problem is that Batgirl hasn’t been seen in Gotham for years…Can Cass find Batgirl before her father destroys the world she has grown to love? Or will shehave to take on a heroic mantle of her very own?

Accompanied by the edgy art style of Nicole Goux, Sarah Kuhn, author of Heroine Complex and I Love You So Mochi, tells the harrowing story of a girl who overcomes the odds to find her unique identity.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2020 (Vol. 116, No. 9))
Grades 8-11. Trained from birth to be a perfect weapon, Cassandra Cain dispatches her father’s enemies with ghastly snaps, cracks, and crunches. Though her highly specialized training has left her with only the barest grasp of spoken language, she reads the love and regret in the eyes of her last victim as he croaks a farewell to his own beloved child, and so Cassandra goes on the run. She winds up hiding out in a Gotham City library, where she starts developing her language skills and hears the legend of Batgirl, as told by none other than former Batgirl Barbara Gordon. Struggling to open up, Cass eventually accepts Barbara, as well as Jackie, the tough but motherly owner of the neighborhood noodle shop, as her surrogate family. With their help, she dons a DIY costume and brings Batgirl back to the streets, starting with a crusade against dodgy library patrons, but eventually she confronts her own past in the form of her father and his assassins. There’s an inexhaustible supply of stories about choosing a path or identity in YA literature, but Kuhn deepens the theme and her character by centering her plot on Cass’ confused search for both human connection and heroic ideals. Add Goux’s lean, manga-inflected art with its rollicking, parkour-inspired action sequences, and you’ve got a top-tier entry in DC’s YA graphic novel line.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2019)
The story behind Batgirl. Cassandra Cain is trained to kill. Raised by a criminal mastermind, she knows only how to fight and execute. One day she freezes in the face of one victim’s desperation for her to pass on a message to his daughter. Not wanting to return home, she is found on the streets by noodle shop owner Jackie Fujikawa Yoneyama, who gives her a free meal. Cassandra also finds solace in the Gotham Public Library, where, having been raised with little conversation, she learns to comprehend language by listening to librarian Barbara’s storytimes about Batgirl. Fascinated, Cassandra begins to understand her life before, with her villain of a father, and to envision the life she wants to lead in the future, as a hero. This is an excellent introduction to Cassandra’s backstory and her journey to becoming Batgirl. The detailed illustrations and meticulous coloring add emotion and effectively convey movement. Dark memories and moments are shrouded in blue and purple while Cassandra’s safe, comforting spells are brightened by shades of yellow and orange. Cassandra’s sweet, touching story includes themes of self-discovery, relationships, family, and personal choices, and there’s enough action to keep readers interested. The cast of characters is diverse in race and ability; Cassandra has mutism, she and Jackie are Asian, and red-haired Barbara uses a wheelchair. Without a shadow of a doubt, readers will enjoy this hero’s backstory. (Graphic novel. 12-17)

About the Author

Sarah Kuhn is the author of Heroine Complex—the first in a series starring Asian American superheroines—for DAW Books. She also wrote The Ruby Equation for the comics anthology Fresh Romance and the romantic comedy novella One Con Glory, which earned praise from io9 and USA Today and is in development as a feature film. Her articles and essays on such topics as geek girl culture, comic book continuity, and Sailor Moon cosplay have appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Apex Magazine, AngryAsianMan.com, IGN.com, Back Stage, The Hollywood Reporter, StarTrek.com, Creative Screenwriting, and the Hugo-nominated anthology Chicks Dig Comics. In 2011, she was selected as a finalist for the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award.

Her website is www.heroinecomplex.com

Teacher Resources

Shadow of the Batgirl on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

Shadow of the Batgirl on Amazon

Shadow of the Batgirl on Barnes and Noble

Shadow of the Batgirl on Goodreads

Shadow of the Batgirl on LibraryThing

Shadow of the Batgirl Publisher Page

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