The Altered History of Willow Sparks – Tara O’Connor

I love a story that makes me think about what I’d do in a character’s position. In The Altered History of Willow Sparks Willow is essentially a book nerd. She is regularly tormented by the school’s resident ‘mean girl’, she loves to read, she works after school at the local library and her friends, Georgia and Gary, don’t appear to be winning any popularity contests either. Oh, she also has pimples, thinks her hair makes her look like a boy and sucks at dodgeball.

Willow accidentally comes across a hidden room filled with books, including one with her name on the spine. Naturally she takes ‘her’ book home and discovers that by writing in this book she can rewrite parts of her life. Of course nothing this magical comes without a price.

I flew through this one. Yes, it was predictable but it was also an entertaining read. Because it’s one of my all time favourite movies I did wonder if Twin Pines High School was a nod to Back to the Future.

I adored the use of blue tones in the illustrations and art critic that I am (ha!) I really liked the feel of the artwork. Perhaps it’s because the same person wrote and illustrated this graphic novel but there wasn’t the jarring I’ve felt recently with other graphic novels. I’m not quite sure how to explain this but it was as though there was a harmony between the words and pictures, so the story flowed seamlessly for me.

When you see Willow making changes to her life your mind naturally does a stocktake of your own life. Circumstances outside of our control aside, we basically do write our own lives anyway, but it is kind of intoxicating to think of the what ifs.

What would you write into your life if you had the power?

What would you write out of it?

Would the consequences outweigh the benefits of the changes?

Personally I can think of a number of things I may consider rewriting but I don’t think I actually would in most instances. While the sucky things in life obviously suck, good can come out of the suckiest of situations. It’s certainly an interesting concept to play around with at any rate.

It’s probably the caffeine flowing through my veins but I loved that there’s a tally in the ‘special features’ section at the end of how much caffeine was consumed by Tara O’Connor during the writing and illustrating process. In case you’re curious, she drank 1460 cups of coffee, 730 cups of tea and 12 espressos. There’s also a list of some of the music that she listened to. It’s the inclusion of this sort of unique quirkiness that makes me love a book even more and feel like I could sit down and have a chat to the author.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Oni Press for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

What if you had the power to rewrite your life?

Willow Sparks and her best friend Georgia Pratt are at the bottom of the social ladder at Twin Pines High School, just trying to get through each day relatively unscathed. But when Willow finds a mysterious book that allows her to literally change her life, it feels like her luck is finally turning. 

As she becomes more popular with each entry into the book, her old life, including her friendship with Georgia, seems miles away. Yet as Willow will soon discover, every action has a reaction, and the future has unusual – even dangerous – ways of protecting itself.

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