Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan
Publication Date: April 21st 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA / LGBTQ / Contemporary
From the author of Hot Dog Girl comes a fresh and funny queer YA contemporary novel about two teens who fall in love in an indie comic book shop.
Jubilee has it all together. She’s an elite cellist, and when she’s not working in her stepmom’s indie comic shop, she’s prepping for the biggest audition of her life.
Ridley is barely holding it together. His parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country, and Ridley can’t stop disappointing them—that is, when they’re even paying attention.
They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. Too bad their parents are at each other’s throats every chance they get, making a relationship between them nearly impossible…unless they manage to keep it a secret.
Then again, the feud between their families may be the least of their problems. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?
*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***
Verona Comics was cute and complicated YA, queer contemporary that revolved around Jubilee and Ridley. It was about anxiety disorder and mental health issue, dysfunctional family, love and complications, learning to love yourself and life, looking for a solution of problem rather than finding an exit door.
Writing was gripping and fast paced. At first it felt light hearted and cozy but as I read more that vibe turned so intense and heavy. If you are expecting lot of fun, humor and light YA romance just hold your thought here because it’s much more complicated with serious issues. Verona Comics was written from Jubilee and Ridley’s POV that provided clear view of total opposite life style, family and their views towards comic books business.
Plot was interesting. As synopsis said Jubilee and Ridley met at comic convention prom that Ridley’s dad’ company, Geekery, sponsored. Geekery had a reputation of destroying Indie comic shops and had an evil eye on Verona Comics ever since Verona laughed at Ridley’s dad’s offer. When they met at prom they didn’t know who their parents were but Ridley found out Jubilee was Verona’s step daughter and they hate Geekery. I knew it was going to be complicated but even Ridley agreeing to spy on Verona comic for his dad to please him to go back to his childhood home was shocking. I was curious to see where this will go from here, how Jubilee will find out about his real identity and what Ridley will do to come out of the mess he created.
Characters were interesting. I loved family dynamics and balance of family, friendship and romance. Jubilee’s family was great. Both her moms were supportive, loving and caring. Verona was the stepmother everybody would love. I didn’t like Ridley’s family. I blame them for everything happened in this book. But I liked his sister Gray. She was amazing from the very beginning.
There were so much diversity. Jubilee’s mom was bi and her stepmom, Verona, was lesbian. Both Jubilee and Ridley were bi, Jubilee’s friend Jayla was black and lesbian. I liked Jubilee for her non-label thoughts. She was bi but haven’t experimented it and didn’t care for a label and accepted who she was.
Jubilee was smart, overachiever student, and amazing cellist. Audition for scholarship to summer program to study with famous cello teacher was her dream. Her passion and dedication was admirable but at the same time I agreed with her both friends. She should have applied other camps and she should managed things normally like she did before Ridley entered her life. Her concerns and emotions were well written. As adult I didn’t agree the way she handled situation in climax but I can see and understand why she did that. I might have done the same at her age. Young love does that to us. Her decision later was fabulous. I liked her even more for it.
“I’m just saying, don’t let one moment define you. Because there are going to be a lot of moments till to come, no matter which way things shake out.”
Ridley was good person but he was struggling with many things. He had narcissist parents who didn’t love him as he wasn’t prodigy and stopped caring for him once they knew he was bi, had anxiety disorder and suffered with depression. My heart went to him, I wanted to snatch him away from those parents who not only were not helping him but also made him feel worthless. But at the same time I didn’t like him exactly for what he was doing from the beginning even though he knew it was wrong. When he spent more time with Jubilee I started to warm to him as it was helping him coping with his mental health and also for his wish to come out clean. But climax changed it once again because he was asking a lot from Jubilee and was not even thinking about her family, he was being selfish. I exactly felt like Jubilee did, I liked him but at the same time I didn’t. I was so glad after climax things started to change for him and I was happy with his efforts.
“If my ride was music, then his is a symphony, and I don’t want it to stop.”
I loved how author showed young love and complications that comes with it, how course of life can be changed at any minute, one cannot have full control over life and most of all representation of anxiety disorder and panic attacks. How character suffering with mental health act and behave and what are their thought process, how difficult it’s for them in life and how they need more than just medications. Honestly I wasn’t expecting this heavy topic in the book so it was total surprise but I was glad to read author’s realistic approach with this topic.
Climax was tense. As I said I wasn’t happy with characters’ decision at this point and wanted to shake them out of whatever they were thinking so they could see what was coming. I swear my heartbeats stopped for a moment and I was dreading what happened next. But at the same time something good came out of it, they learned many things, it changed their life and developed stronger and healthier. I like the end. It was great.
I thought I will rate this 4 because I was not happy with characters’ decisions and I wasn’t happy with Ridley and what he did throughout the book but when I gave it some time, put myself in their situation, it felt so real and apposite. They were just 17. Who has wisdom and maturity about love, life, and relationships at this age! And let’s not forget mental health issue. So, yes, full star to this.
Overall, Verona Comics was realistic, deep, complicated, and heartwarming YA LGBTQ cotemporary romance. I highly recommend this to fans of this genre.
What do you think about the book and my review? Have you read this book already or any books by the same author? Are you going to add it to TBR? Which book you read that features anxiety disorder?
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