Saturday, September 09, 2023

Hide: The Graphic Novel

You can count on the horror genre to find the dark side of all our childhood games. These days, you can also count on young adult (YA) fiction for unsubtle political commentary. This graphic novel adaptation of a popular YA novel does both—and as you would expect, the former is more interesting than the latter. As the story opens, Mack reluctantly agrees to participate in an adult hide-and-seek contest, because she doesn’t have many options and she has always been good at hiding. Of course, the game is more serious than players realize in Hide: The Graphic Novel, Scott Peterson’s adaptation of Kiersten White’s YA novel of the same name, illustrated by Veronica & Andy Fish, which goes on-sale this Tuesday.

Mack will be one of fourteen would-be-influencers, under-achievers, and general screw-ups competing in the long-deserted amusement park for the $50,000 prize. Some are not so bad, like Ava 1 (or Ava 2 depending on which of the Avas you were speaking to). The one who was a veteran takes a liking to Mack, which rather surprises her. The other Ava isn’t so bad either, but she cannot resist making an alliance with jerkweed Jaden.

In a game like hide-and-seek, it should be every man for himself, but there is something weird about this contest. Readers can see players leaving the game meet a particularly gruesome fate, but it takes a while for the Millennial-nothings to catch on. They think they are participating in a potential reality show, but they have been set-up by a sinister cabal. All will be revealed in the ancient journal hidden somewhere in the labyrinth-like grounds of the creepy old Amazement Park.

is not just another And Then There Were None rip-off. There is a very explicit fantastical horror dimension to the characters’ two-by-two disappearances. However, there is a privileged human cabal also involved. It isn’t exactly the patriarchy, because the busybody hostess Linda is secretly running the show, but very clearly represents the elite of the economically elite. (Ironically, Linda makes a better case for the exploitative schemes afoot than maybe Peterson or White intended, when she bemoans Millennial/Gen Z slackers’ eagerness to participate in her “reality show” rather than do real work.)

Of course, there is a romantic undercurrent brewing between Mack and Ava 1, because you cannot publish in the YA field today without significant LGBTQetc content. However, it is nice to see two of the most sympathetic characters, Brandon and Legrand, are guys, who hold traditional religious beliefs (and are not vilified for it).

The strong supporting characters are definitely one of
Hide’s greatest strengths (at least in its new graphic format). The other is the distinctive look of the Amazement Park. As rendered by Fish and Fish, each macabre attraction should charm a lot of horror fans.

When reading the graphic novel, it is easy see why the prose novel found an audience, despite its strident class consciousness. You do feel like you went through a lot with these characters. Recommended for fans of teen horror,
Hide: The Graphic Novel goes on-sale Tuesday (9/12), wherever books are sold.