2/5 stars. Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBTQ, Comic Drawing.
Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background. He may be a talented artist, a sci-fi geek, and gay, but at his Texas high school, those traits would only bring him the worst kind of attention.
In fact, the only place he feels free to express himself is at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance-art-inspired superhero, Graphite.
But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be. Maybe it’s time to not be so invisible after all – no matter how dangerous the risk.
Debut author Laurent Linn writes a charged story – illustrated with his own extraordinary drawings – about discovering your own superpowers, deciding how to use them, and where to draw the line.
In Draw the Line, Adrian only feels like he can fully express himself through his creation of a superhero comic, which he shares anonymously online. At his school, anyone who is known as gay gets bullied by Doug and Buddy – the football players – so Adrian feels like he needs to hide that part of himself from everyone but his two closest friends, Trent and Audrey.
But, as the story goes on and Adrian gets his phone crushed once again in the bullying of a gay kid, he decided this is where he will draw the line. This is where he will make his stand and say something about the bullying going on. Someone begins slipping possibly menacing notes in his locker and Adrian gets outed, but it isn’t all bad because Adrain learns his long-time thought-to-be-straight crush Lev is gay and that Adrain can stand up for himself.
I picked up Draw the Line because it is not a graphic novel or just a plain novel, but incorporates art into the story. Laurent Linn, the author of the book, also created the art and I think this is a fantastic achievement on a direction novels can take but rarely do, unless it is for beginning readers in something like Junie B. Jones or The Magic Treehouse. The art added to the story because it gave us a better idea of how Adrain truly perceived the world and the people around him. I also applaud the LGBTQ representation.
Other than that, though, I thought the story fell pretty flat. My main issue – which I know wasn’t intended by the author – was that gay people were the only ones bullied when there was a whole cast of characters that likely would have been, like Audrey, a large, black woman who Adrian named ‘Sultry’ in his comic and Trent, a black eye-liner wearing dude who is so tall, Adrian deemed him ‘Willow.’ It just seems naive to me to write a novel where you are making a gay rights statement but then blatantly ignore struggles other communities are going through. I think just a moment or something where someone got angry and said, “It’s not all about you, Adrian! I went through this” would have been enough to just to acknowledge what others might be going through.
The plot felt like it had been outlined, like “I need to get to point Z, so to get there, I could make ‘this’ happen”. It felt planned, rather than organically originating from the characters as it needed to, especially with a story meant to be driven by the characters.
I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters. I liked that Adrian was artistic, but he always made everything about him and was a real jerk with how he tried to scare the bully out of bullying. Adrian stooped to Doug’s level, maybe even further because Adrain took everything online, which is just about the worst thing you can do, in my opinion. I think everything always seemed about Adrian with his friends because his friends essentially didn’t have lives outside of him. I mean, they each had their own things, but everything always related back to Adrian and it frustrated me.
SIDE *clap* CHARACTERS *clap* ARE *clap* IMPORTANT
And then there was the ‘hottest boy in school wants to date boring, unattractive, nerdy old me with no fashion sense’ trope which many of us got over back when Twilight was a thing people liked.
I think every single one of the problems I had with this novel simply came from inexperience and I wouldn’t be surprised if Linn churns out another novel that has very little, if any, of these issues.
I enjoyed his incorporation of his artistic talent with his storytelling and hope he continues to add that to any novels he might write in the future. Overall, I like the idea, but not the execution.