Summary: Faint at Heart
Faint at Heart is set in a dystopian world where no one but high schooler June has a heart. When a scientist (known simply as The Scientist) discovers that removing your heart takes away negative emotions like heartbreak, sadness, and anxiety, everyone undergoes the procedure. Unfortunately, the procedure also takes away the positive feelings. As June grapples with the loneliness of being the only one with a heart, she discovers a classmate whose heart is now growing back. Both teens work together to find the scientist and get her to reverse the procedure.
This was such a unique graphic novel, and I loved the way it presented the concept of feeling your feelings, whether they’re positive or negative. June is such a sweet character, and it takes a lot of inner strength to resist getting the procedure. As the only one with a heart, June is lonely. Her family is uninterested in her emotions, and her sister, who used to be an artist and gardener, doesn’t do either activity anymore — which is hard to see.
I also loved the subtle, haunting nature of the illustrations in this graphic novel. The text is surprisingly sparse, with plenty of emphasis on the illustrations and the characters’ expressions. The relationship between June and her classmate Max is platonic (on the page, at least), and the two work well to solve the mystery of the Scientist and why she came up with the procedure.
Overall: Faint at Heart
Faint at Heart is a stellar, unique teen graphic novel about embracing the full spectrum of human emotions, no matter how hard it is. This is perfect for kids who love a good dystopian story and enjoy graphic novels. The illustrations in this book are striking and haunting, and the concept is poignant and thought-provoking. Although the publisher says this is for teens, the content is totally appropriate for younger readers ages 10+ (only because the main theme of the story might fly over the heads of much younger readers). I’d love to see more young adult titles like this, with different storylines than the usual.
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