The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp and Manuel Preitano

First off: I loved this book. What a great addition to the DC Ink lineup!

The Oracle Code is the story of teenage Barbara Gordon who is struggling after an accident has left her paralyzed. Her mental health is as broken as her physical body. Her father, Commissioner James Gordon, sends her to The Arkham Center for Independence, a rehabilitation clinic for young people. Barbara is stuck in limbo. She resists all forms of therapy, pushes her father away, and is reluctant to make any new friends at the center. Frustrated and stuck, she misses her old life and the computer hacking she loves. It isn’t until a late-night visit from another patient that she starts to break out from her shell of depression.

Jena’s parents were killed in a house fire that left only herself and her brother alive, and now he is missing. It sounds like a mystery for Barbara, something to focus on, but the head psychiatrist says to let it go. He dismisses her and tells her to just focus on her own recovery. But Barbara is not a young woman who can be told to let an investigation go… she has a feeling that things in the wards are not on the up and up.

Not only is the plot of this graphic novel so well developed, but the way it is told is fantastic. Barbara uses the metaphor of a puzzle to describe many of the problems facing her in her life. Her life in the wheelchair since the accident, her friend Ben who won’t text her back, the ghosts who may roam the halls, and the odd history she has uncovered. These are all pieces that she tries to put together in a coherent picture of healing.

The artwork features phenomenal shadow work and a palette of colors that include purples and blues and bright reds. It’s a range of color that I’m not used to in comics, but works very effectively in this piece. I also like how the style changes at points to illustrate the difference between reality and the stories the characters tell each other.

This is a powerful work because it focuses on the after effects of the accident. It reveals the pain and frustration, and also the resilience.


Preview and Buy the Book HERE.

Thank you to NetGalley, DC Comics, and the author/ illustrator for an advanced copy for review.

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