From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alex and Eliza and The Witches of East End comes a reimagining of Gotham for a new generation of readers. Before they became Batman, Catwoman, and The Joker, Bruce, Selina, and Jack were high schoolers who would do whatever it took–even destroy the ones they love–to satisfy their own motives.
After being kicked out of his boarding school, 16-year-old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City to find that nothing is as he left it. What once was his family home is now an empty husk, lonely but haunted by the memory of his parents’ murder. Selina Kyle, once the innocent girl next door, now rules over Gotham High School with a dangerous flair, aided by the class clown, Jack Napier.
When a kidnapping rattles the school, Bruce seeks answers as the dark and troubled knight–but is he actually the pawn? Nothing is ever as it seems, especially at Gotham High, where the parties and romances are of the highest stakes … and where everyone is a suspect.
With enchanting art by Thomas Pitilli, this new graphic novel is just as intoxicating as it is chilling, in which dearest friends turn into greatest enemies–all within the hallways of Gotham High!
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Gotham High is an imaginative and lively Young Adult graphic novel penned by author Melissa de la Cruz and illustrated by artist Thomas Pitilli. It depicts alternate, contemporary takes on the origins of Gotham’s most notorious denizens set in a high school setting, and is a cautionary tale of the dangers of jealousy and manipulation. It promotes the idea that although people can come from drastically different backgrounds, each may suffer silently due to a variety of reasons that plague them. Inventive storytelling accompanied by gorgeous illustrations, this is a brisk, fun read that I enjoyed more than expected.
De la Cruz tells a story that pays homage to the Gotham we all know and love, but with modern twists that allow for today’s younger audience to easily relate to. Narrated with a tone dripping of deviousness, Selina Garcia Kyle, our young Catwoman, transports us to a city dominated by corruption and hard social lines. In addition to the focus on her machinations, the other two key players are Bruce Wayne, the billionaire lone vigilante, and John (Jack) Napier, the prankster from a broken home. The dynamics between these three characters are what essentially drive the story forward, however it’s the little creative nods to traditional Batman elements that make this graphic novel pop; Harvey Dent flipping his coin, Jack with his lucky deck of cards, mention of The Caped Crusader, Ivy working in an apothecary shop, even Uncle Alfred and Principal Gordon. The attention to detail is excellent.
The story itself is straightforward and addresses the fundamental themes and tropes of teenage life, but in the stylized and embellished manner expected of superhero stories. The author touches upon cruel bullying, less-than-ideal living conditions at home, finding one’s place, and a little bit of romance with a lot of drama. For such a quick read, it does, at times, fall short on developing many of the ideas presented, and its breakneck pacing also has the tendency to make things unclear. However, these little hiccups didn’t detract me from thoroughly enjoying as I flipped through the book’s pages.
Thomas Pitilli’s clean and vibrant illustrations bring this story to life in the most beautiful of ways. Everything from minute consistency to spot on color theory to evoke the emotions being conveyed, it’s difficult to find any flaws worthy of note. The imagery perfectly captures the original tale being told, and he goes above and beyond with these striking visuals. Storytelling in this particular medium is not one I’m very familiar with, as I’m more of a traditional novel reader, but the artwork alone has sparked an interest to delve deeper into the world of graphic novels.
Gotham High is a fast, entertaining read targeting those craving a fresh interpretation of the histories of characters that have become staples in the world of entertainment. With the help of stunning illustrations, this story of mystery and vigilantism practically jumps off the pages from start to finish. If you’re on the hunt for a tale of diversity, betrayal, and finding allies in the most unexpected of places, then I suggest you give this one a try.
My Rating: I give this a solid 3.5/5, but will round up to 4.
Note: A huge thank you to DC Comics for the complementary advance copy of this book.
Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.
Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.
She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.
Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).
She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.
Thomas Pitilli is an illustrator and comic book artist living in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY. His work has appeared in such publications as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Playboy, Washington Post, Variety, Hollywood Reporter and more. He is artist on the comic series Riverdale from Archie Comics as well as an upcoming project with DC Comics. When not making art, Thomas enjoys music, museums and summertime in NYC.