Title: Lifetime Passes
Author: Terry Blas, Claudia Aguirre (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Contemporary
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: November 23, 2021
In this darkly comedic YA graphic novel, a group of teens starts a program to bring senior citizens to a local theme park to take advantage of the unofficial park policy: If someone dies on the property, the rest of their party is given lifetime passes!
Sixteen-year-old Jackie Chavez loves her local amusement park, Kingdom Adventure, maybe more than anything else in the world. The park is all she and her friends Nikki, Daniel, and Berke—although they aren’t always the greatest friends—talk about. Kingdom Adventure is where all Jackie’s best memories are, and it’s where she feels safe and happy. This carries even more weight now that Jackie’s parents have been deported and forced to go back to Mexico, leaving Jackie in the United States with her Tía Gina, who she works with at the Valley Care Living seniors’ home. When Gina tells Jackie that they can’t afford a season pass for next summer, Jackie is crushed. But on her next trip to Kingdom Adventure, she discovers a strictly protected secret: If a member of their party dies at the park, the rest of their group gets free lifetime passes.
Jackie and her friends hatch a plot to bring seniors from Valley Care Living to the park using a fake volunteer program, with the hopes that one of the residents will croak during their visit. The ruse quickly gets its first volunteer—a feisty resident named Phyllis.
What starts off as a macabre plan turns into a revelation for Jackie as Phyllis and the other seniors reveal their own complex histories and connections to Kingdom Adventure, as well as some tough-to-swallow truths about Jackie, her friends, and their future.
With artist Claudia Aguirre, Terry Blas has crafted a graphic novel that is dark and deeply moving. This book is Cocoon meets Heathers—a twisted satire about a magical land and the people who love it, even to the point of obsession. Jackie’s summer is about to turn into a wild ride filled with gallows humor, friendship, and fun—or is it?
Sixteen-year-old Jessica Chavez loved going to the local amusement park, Kingdom Adventure, but her aunt tells her that at the end of the summer, she won’t be able to afford to renew her season pass. Jessica and her friends heard a rumor that if someone dies while at the park, the rest of the party with that guest receives lifetime passes to the park. They decide to bring the elderly people who live in the facility where Jessica’s aunt works, in the hopes that they will die while at the park. Jackie ends up becoming friends with Phyllis, a woman who always wants to go to the park. Phyllis and the other seniors share their stories with these teens, and open their eyes to the similarities of their histories.
This story had a dark premise, but I can believe that teens would think this was a good idea. Many of Jessica’s friends were ignorant and rude, only wanting to get lifetime passes for themselves, but not actually caring about the elderly people they brought to the park. One of these teens ended up having an ironic ending, so they didn’t win in the end.
There was a common theme in this story about kids living without their parents or family. Jessica’s parents were deported to Mexico, so she lived with her aunt. One boy who accompanied them to the park was adopted and wanted to learn more about his Korean heritage. Phyllis was a Holocaust survivor, who left her family behind after moving to the United States. Each of these characters had different circumstances from different time periods, yet they all lost their biological family in some way.
Lifetime Passes is a dark comedic graphic novel.
Thank you Abrams for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Hotel Dare by Terry Blas, Claudia Aguirre
Ghosted in L.A., Vol. 1 by Sina Grace, Siobhan Keenan, Cathy Le
Have you read Lifetime Passes? What did you think of it?