Wednesdays aren't a day I post on every week, but today I've got a special post for you. Literary Bound Tours is hosting a book tour for the upcoming book Squad and I am fortunate enough to be part of the tour. A huge thank you to Literary Bound Tours, HarperCollins Canada, as well as Maggie Tokuda-Hall & Lisa Sterle, for the chance to read an ARC of Squad and be a part of this tour. Squad is a 224 page LGBTQ+ Paranormal Graphic novel by Maggie Tokuda-Hall & Lisa Sterle. The graphic novel is being release in hardcover, paperback, and ebook on Tuesday October 5, 2021 and you can find it at Indigo | HarperCollins CA | Amazon or you can find it locally by clicking the shop local button on the HarperCollins Page. Before I get on with the review, here's a synopsis for the book!
Synopsis - Pretty Little Liars meets Teen Wolf in this sharply funny, and patriarchy-smashing graphic novel from author Maggie Tokuda-Hall and artist Lisa Sterle. When the new girl is invited to join her high school’s most popular clique, she can’t believe her luck—and she can’t believe their secret, either.
When Becca transfers to a high school in an elite San Francisco suburb, she’s worried she’s not going to fit in. To her surprise, she’s immediately adopted by the most popular girls in school. At first glance, Marley, Arianna, and Mandy are perfect. But at a party under a full moon, Becca learns that they also have a big secret.
Becca’s new friends are werewolves. Their prey? Slimy boys who take advantage of unsuspecting girls. Eager to be accepted, Becca allows her friends to turn her into a werewolf, and finally, for the first time in her life, she feels like she truly belongs.
But then things get complicated. As their pack begins to buckle under the pressure, their moral high ground gets muddier and muddier—and Becca realizes that she might have feelings for one of her new best friends.
Lisa Sterle’s stylish illustrations paired with Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s sharp writing make Squad a fierce, haunting, and fast-paced thriller that will resonate with fans of Riverdale, and with readers of This Savage Song, Lumberjanes, and Paper Girls.
This graphic novel had me intrigued right from the start. Right away I was getting heathers/mean girls vibes with cliquey popular high school girls taking in a new girl to their group. I definitely also got the Pretty Little Liars and Teen Wolf vibes that were prominent throughout the book. I loved the concept of this book, popular girls clique who are secretly werewolves who go after and get revenge on sexual predators and toxic men. A girl squad that's trying to bring down the patriarchy, that alone has me hooked. It was a fairly fast paced story and I liked that it never felt like there was a lull and the whole story flowed nicely together. The illustrations that went with the story were gorgeous. Lisa did such an amazing job, especially with capturing the aesthetic of the story. The colours used and the character art kind of gave me retro vibes which I really liked. I thought the illustrations fit the story extremely well. I honestly think I loved the illustrations alone just as much as I liked the story altogether.
The fact that the story starts by talking about the death of a student and then backtracks to tell the story of how everything got to that point was really cool. The way it started had me intrigued because it talks about realizing the magnitude of the situation and that for Becca it all started with something so simple and mundane. It was easy to tell Becca was the new girl at school and seemed a bit shy about making friends. She had just moved from L.A. and had transferred schools, not an easy thing to do going into her third year in high school. Right away she meets Marley a junior, like Becca, with an outgoing personality and who’s super friendly. I could tell Marley didn’t have the same personality as the other two on the squad and I liked seeing her find herself and show off that personality more throughout the book.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Arianna, she was definitely the mean girl of the group and the leader who liked to boss the others around. I disliked her boyfriend Thatcher even more and wasn’t upset to see he got what he deserved, maybe to a bit of an extreme but it is paranormal fiction. I can’t say I was surprised at Arianna’s ending either, but I was happy that things weren’t just overlooked and that she didn’t get a happy ending.
As for Amanda, I thought she was kind of overlooked. She took a backseat to Marley and Arianna and I would have loved to see her stand up for herself more. I was glad that she did stand up to Arianna and told the girl who turned Arianna into a werewolf just how poorly Arianna had been leading the squad. I just wish she had gotten a bit of a happier ending because the epilogue didn’t make it seem like she was too happy.
I would’ve liked to see more development on the relationship between Becca and Marley, but knowing that was not the main focus for the story it was understandable that there wasn’t too much detail. I did also noticed that there was some micro-aggression towards the POC character, especially towards the beginning, that went unmentioned and unchallenged which I didn’t love. I think some of the comments Marley made throughout the beginning of the story Becca being a lesbian had to do with some repression Marley was feeling, but the comments still didn’t sit quite right. I do like seeing those type of things talked about instead of being looked over even if it’s not a main part of the story, so I wish it had been talked about even slightly more. It did just kind of seem like those details were brushed off when they shouldn’t have been. It can be a hard thing to include in a shorter story, especially if it’s a graphic novel, but it isn’t something that should be overlooked.
Overall I did enjoy the book quite a bit. 4/5 Stars. I loved Marley and Becca as characters and would love to see more of them in the future if that was something that could happen. I would also love to see more Amanda and give her a chance to grow more. Once again, I thought the concept was really cool and something I haven’t seen too much of before. And of course the art was absolutely amazing, Lisa did such a wonderful job. I am so grateful I got the chance to read this ARC. I hope you all pick up the book when it comes out, or preorder to help further support the author. And if you're interested here's a link to the tour schedule so you can check out what everyone else thought! https://literaryboundtours.com/2021/08/31/tour-schedule-squad-by-maggie-tokuda-hall-lisa-sterle/
About Maggie Tokuda-Hall - Author
Maggie Tokuda-Hall is the author Also an Octopus, illustrated by Benji Davies, The Mermaid, The Witch and The Sea, Squad, illustrated by Lisa Sterle, and Love in the Library illustrated by Yas Imamura with more books forthcoming. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, son, and objectively perfect dog.
She has a BA in Studio Art from Scripps College, and an MFA in Writing from University of San Francisco.
About Lisa Sterle - Artist
Lisa Sterle is an artist with work spanning from comic books to concept designs to pop-culture-fueled illustration. She is the co-creator of the monthly comics Long Lost and Submerged, as well as the creator of The Modern Witch Tarot Deck. She received her BFA from Columbus College of Art & Design and currently resides in Columbus, Ohio.