Steve Gerber Hard Time: 50 to Life

ISBN 13: 9781401204716

Hard Time: 50 to Life

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9781401204716: Hard Time: 50 to Life
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From Publishers Weekly:

Ethan Harrow and Brandon Snodd, two picked-on high school kids, decide to scare their tormentors with a fake Columbine-like incident. When Brandon begins executing people for real, a kind of energy (invisible to the characters but visible to readers) shoots out of Ethan, killing Brandon. Though only 15, Ethan is tried for the murders as an adult and found guilty. He's taken to the state penitentiary, where he's friendless and out of his depth. In prison, Ethan meets Cole, a tough African-American con who explains the Hobbesian rules of prison life; Swift, an Aryan Brotherhood bruiser; and most important, Gantry, a religious fanatic who killed three people in an abortion clinic. As Ethan faces the vicissitudes of prison life, his power manifests itself frequently, gradually becoming visible and convincing Gantry that there is something unholy about Ethan. Gerber has constructed an intriguing setup that mixes prison drama with the supernatural. Unfortunately, the strong story line and setting are undercut by one-dimensional characters, including Ethan. Hurtt's art doesn't help; his stiff style lacks the nuance needed to invest the characters with personality. Haberlin's coloring stands out, however. His nearly monochrome settings help to establish moods that are otherwise lacking.
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From Booklist:

For his unwitting involvement in a Columbine-like school massacre, 15-year-old Ethan Harrow is tried as an adult and sentenced to 50 years in the state penitentiary. What confronts him there makes bullying at school seem like, well, child's play, as the young inmate makes potentially deadly enemies and forms uneasy alliances. But behind bars, Ethan unwittingly unleashes a mysterious force that surfaces to protect him at times of danger. Condemned for a prank gone wrong, Ethan is a sympathetic protagonist whose wits and smart-ass humor serve him well--and keep the reader entertained. In the best jailhouse-drama tradition, his fellow inmates are colorful but scary, and impending violence or sexual attack is seldom far from the surface. The fantasy element of Ethan's protective spirit keeps the story from being merely Oz lite. Hurtt's effective, unshowy artwork employs a well-designed, muted color palate; Gerber's smart dialogue, and the kind of social relevance that made his Howard the Duck a 1970s cult phenomenon, should grab today's readers, even if this series lacks Howard's zeitgeist-grabbing verve. Gordon Flagg
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