Title: Swamp Thing: Twin Branches
Author: Maggie Stiefvater, Morgan Beem (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Twins Alec and Walker Holland have a reputation around town. One is quiet and the other is the life of any party, but they are inseparable. For their last summer before college, the two leave the city to live with their rural cousins, where they find that the swamp holds far darker depths than they could have imagined.
While Walker carves their names into the new social scene, Alec recedes into a summer school laboratory, because he brought something from home on their trip—it’s an experiment that will soon consume him. This season, both brothers must confront truths, ancient and familial, and as their lives diverge, tensions increase and dormant memories claw to the surface.
Alec and Walker Holland are twins with opposite personalities. Alec is quiet and introverted, but Walker is the life of the party. They take a trip to visit their cousins in the country for the summer before they start college. Walker wants to spend some quality time with his brother, but Alec wants to keep studying his plants that he brought along with them. He studies how plants store memories and emotions. On the first night, their cousins’ dogs are locked up in the garage where Alec’s plant experiments are being stored. The dogs eat the plants and chemicals, but it actually does more harm to the dogs than the experiments. The dogs transform into plant-dog hybrids. As the brothers slowly drift apart over that summer, Alec becomes more involved in his study of plant emotions.
This was the perfect graphic novel for Maggie Stiefvater to write. Her other books explore nature and plants, so writing about a character who studies and becomes a plant is a perfect match.
The plant emotions were displayed right on the page. If a character was connected to the plant, the emotions the plant was feeling would hover around them. The plants also stored memories of the things that happen around them, which revealed some secrets that the characters were hiding.
There was also great representation of diabetes. Alec was a diabetic, who had to check his blood sugar often. He had a sensor in his arm to check his blood sugar with his phone. The plants affected his blood sugar, so it played an important part in the plot as well. It was great to see this diabetes representation illustrated in the story.
I loved the fresh, green illustrations in this graphic novel. There were plants everywhere, including on the lockers in the school. Even if I didn’t notice the plants right away in the panel, the plant would give off emotions which showed that it was present in the story. Though Alec and Walker were twins, I could always tell them apart in the story. Sometimes, characters who are related are drawn so similarly that it’s difficult to tell them apart. Alec was always wearing green and had part of his head shaved, so he looked distinct from his brother. The expressions on their faces even reflected their personalities, with Alec looking very tense and Walker more relaxed.
This is a great graphic novel!
What to read next:
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo (illustrator)
Have you read Swamp Thing: Twin Branches? What did you think of it?