Black Hole by Charles Burns


Author: Burns, Charles

Title: Black Hole

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 368 Pages.

Geographical Setting: Seattle, Washington

Time Period: 1970s

Series: Collection of separately issued comic books

Plot Summary: High school students in Seattle in the 1970s have normal lives, except for the “bug.” This sexually transmitted disease begins to spread among many of the teens, resulting in disfiguring mutations appearing on the affected teens’ bodies. Though not all are visible, the infected teens that begin to show mutations they cannot cover up are treated as outcasts and resort to living in the wilderness and depending on each other for survival. Unfortunately for them, the recluses begin to disappear, and the teens’ concern for their acceptance by society turns into the necessity to survive.

The frightening black-on-white drawings of the graphics further emphasize the foreboding tone of the book, and aid the fast-paced plot.

Subject Headings: Teenagers — Sexuality; Hallucinations and illusions; Sexually transmitted diseases; Homeless teenagers; Disfigured teenagers; Alienation (Social psychology); Sick persons;
Misfits (Persons); Plague; Dreams; Mutants; Mutation (Biology); The Seventies (20th century).

Appeal: Engrossing, fast-paced, evocative, introspective, multiple points of view, vivid, flashbacks, issue-oriented, layered, plot twists, racy, sexually explicit, strong language, thought-provoking, tragic, stark, bleak, dramatic, intimate, uneasy, earthy, unusual.

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: Character-centered, haunting, chilling.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese: Introspective, multiple points of view, character-centered; an examination of identity, race, and social acceptance.

Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World: Urban, evocative, raunchy; an interconnected story of eight teens and their sexual actions.

Dash Shaw’s BodyWorld: Dystopic, comedic, emotional; a small-town group of teenagers discover a mysterious plant with telepathic results.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

David Small’s Stitches: Introspective, haunting, intimate; Small’s memoir of growing up, a story of true self-discovery.

David B.’s Epileptic: Introspective, hallucinatory, shady; a memoir of B.’s youth, focusing on his epileptic brother and the family relationships.

Art Spiegelman’s Maus: Haunting, layered, bleak; a personal look into the horrors of the Holocaust and its effects.

Annotation by Carlen


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