This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews, 336 pp, RL 4

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
Purchased from Barnes & Noble

The moment I opened This Was Our Pact and started reading, I knew I was experiencing something truly special. Entering the cool, blue world Andrews created for this stellar graphic novel, you feel safe, even though there are fleeting moments of foreboding. The first lines of This Was Our Pact are so good, so elegant, and they grab you so quickly, I have to share them here:

Our pact had two simple rules. Rule one: No turning home. Rule Two: No One Looks Back. Every year, we sent hundreds of lanterns down the river. It was the big even fo the Autumn Equinox Festival. And every year, a group of us jumped on our bikes to follow the lanterns downriver. Coasting down the mountain road, we'd watch them drift and weave through the currents. All the way down to Weathered Face Rock, where we'd turn around for the grueling uphill ride home. But this year would be different. This year we would finally know . . . 
It sounds ominous, and immediately called to mind Stephen King's novella, Stand By Me and yes, Stranger Things. This feeling grows as you see the pack of excited, gleeful kids barreling down the mountain along side the glowing paper lanterns in the river, one of them turning to yell, "Nerd alert!" when, from behind, a voice is heard yelling for them to wait up. The tension builds as, one by one, the pack dwindles, kids turning home for Taco Night and other weak excuses until there are just three of them. Reaching the bridge to Toad Canyon, the "barrier our parents made us promise never to cross." As Ben, the creator of the pact, negotiates with Adam and Sammy, trying to get them to cross with him, a dark creature with glowing eyes can be seen under the bridge.
Ben ends up alone on the bridge, Nathaniel finally catching up and repeating the pact to him while also getting clarification on the whole, "no looking back part," pointing out that, in fact, they all looked back when Nathaniel called for them to wait up...

I really don't want to give away any of the surprises, delights and delicious moments, of which there are many, in
 This Was Our Pact. Once Ben and Nathaniel cross the bridge, the sense of foreboding disappears and you realize you have entered a world where gentle magic unfurls in the cool, blue moonlight and you know that, whatever happens to Ben and Nathaniel as they keep their pact and do their best to follow the lanterns to their final destination, and whoever or whatever they meet along the way, they will find what they are looking for and they will also find friendship as they search.

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