Book Breakdown – House of El Unearths More of Krypton’s Secrets

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When we last saw our heroes, Zahn-Re and Sera-Ur—two Kryptonians from disparate parts of society—had formed a tentative partnership aimed at discovering the truth about what’s happening with their planet. Sera had consented to be a part of Jor-El and Lara’s experiments and Zahn was poking around with Midnight, a “terrorist” group with uncertain motives.

Now, Sera’s dealing with changes to her body—and her views on life and societal “rules”—and Zahn’s desperate to find out more about what’s going on, both with Krypton and Midnight.

House of El Book Two: The Enemy Delusion, written by Claudia Gray with art by Eric Zawadzki, is the latest YA graphic novel from DC and a sequel to last year’s House of El Book One: The Shadow Threat. We know what the book and its events will ultimately mean for Krypton, but will it rock your world? Perhaps our Book Breakdown will give you a clue. (And you don’t ignore clues, right? Because we know what that did to Krypton!)

Cover Crackdown:

The Enemy Delusion is, at its heart, a story about a people who are running out of time…although they don’t exactly know it. This cover is a perfect complement to such a story, with its colorful yet ominous imagery. Both Zahn and Sera look determined, but also a little frightened, and they’re obviously running from something, through a lot of rubble. Things are getting dire, and as someone who’s In The Know about what’s to come (at least, drawing upon the usual fate of Krypton), this cover is certainly loaded with foreshadowing.

Tell Me a Story:

Although they’re from the Kryptonian version of the opposite side of the tracks, Zahn and Sera aren’t really bothered by the looks and snide comments they get from other people in their lives. They’re both on a mission, and if that mission happens to mean spending more time with interesting, inspiring and not entirely unattractive people they might not normally spend time with, they’re okay with that.

Sadly, the swoon must wait because there are currently bigger fish to fry. For Sera, it’s figuring out what Jor-El and Lara’s genetic alterations did to her (and trying not to be super obvious about it while doing her soldiery duties). For Zahn, it’s getting more involved with Midnight with the best of intentions, but realizing that they’re maybe more dangerous than he first thought. And for both of them, it’s cracking into a data solid stolen from the House of El, a data solid that promises answers they so desperately seek.

Let’s Talk Art:

Zawadzki’s art is complex. He packs every page and panel with detail, to the point where it might just seem overly busy at first glance. But really, it’s a wonderful depiction of Krypton, a planet full of technology and infrastructure (and very few other distinguishing features). The amount of detail never detracts from the story. Rather, it adds to the heightened action-packed pace of the plot and backs up the fragility of the alien world. The color use, too, feels very alien in the best of ways, at least from the perspective of someone who lives on a planet orbiting a yellow sun.

Dialog Discussion:

Gray is an author I know and love from her YA series, so It’s no surprise that I love her work in this series, too. She knows how to write compelling dialog with just the right amount of exposition, and her characters feel so real. Sera and Zhan, both teenagers, are an excellent mix of naive, pig-headed and humble (when they’re forced to be), but Gray never treats them like people with no agency, which I very much appreciate. They might be young, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t affect change!

Most Embarrassing Moment:

Zahn asks Sera to train him in combat techniques (“Badass 101,” he calls it) with the ulterior motive of getting to spend more time with her. I’m sure he thought she’d take it easy on him, but that’s 100% not her style. He can barely keep up with what she’s prepared, and they call it quits soon after she realizes that he doesn’t even know how to stand correctly. I’m sure he’s embarrassed at his lack of prowess, and he might even have let it come between them—had he been a true member of the Kryptonian upper class. Thankfully, he’s not. He’s a good guy who realizes that someone who’s “lower” than him being better at certain things doesn’t make him lesser. (So enlightened, that Zahn.)

Perfect Food Pairing:

They don’t eat much in The Enemy Delusion, and I’m not really sure what Kryptonians eat in general, given the overly unnatural state of their planet. But the colors in this book had me craving Doritos, both nacho and cool ranch, the entire time I was reading. Guess that kind of goes with the whole unnatural vibe?

What Would You Most Like to Ask?:

Unless Gray and Zawadzki decide to go completely rogue with the end of this series—and I have absolutely no insight into that, mind you—I pretty much know where the plot is headed. And I would never want to give spoilers to Zahn or Sera—I don’t mess around with timey wimey paradoxes. So, I’d love to be able to ask them where they see themselves in five, ten, twenty years. Would they still be fighting for the betterment of their planet and their people? Would they have left in search of better, easier lives elsewhere? Would they want to get married, eschewing all Kryptonian class rules and the disagreement of their peers? If anyone’s going to make waves, it’s these two.
 

House of El Book Two: The Enemy Delusion by Claudia Gray and Eric Zawadzki is now available in print and as a graphic novel.

When Mandy Curtis isn’t reading books by Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J. Maas, she’s dreaming of busting bad guys with Wonder Woman—if Steve Trevor’s there, too, she won’t complain—and writing about YA fiction and pop culture at Forever Young Adult. Follow her on Twitter at @mandyannecurtis.

Not sure what you just read? Click here for the skinny on our Book Breakdowns.

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