Some plot point spoilers.
I figured that Suncatcher would be about music and some sort of hard rock. Instead about being about “just music” it is about music (punk/hard rock/independent/and as it is set in Mexico, the cultural influences of the era), perfection, the obsessions we allow ourselves and the ghosts that haunt us.
All the reviews I have seen seem to take the character Beatriz literally: her grandfather’s soul is literally trapped in his guitar; she is literally being haunted by him and the man/devil he made a deal with many years ago. I personally took it more of a metaphor: she hears them, but they are not there. It is just her going into a madness. A downward spin into a depression where she is probably a combination of sad, angry and even “survivor guilt” because of how her grandfather was the only one who seemed to “get her” and fueled her music passions and now he has died with “unfinished business” she thinks he wants her to finish for him.
As someone who has dealt with my own and friends mental health issues, I do not say “madness” lightly. I see her depression over her grandfather’s death as a serious issue. What I took away was that we might fall into a dark place, but we can overcome that. Of course, it could kill us, too. And there lies the excitement and my favorite part of the book. The end has Beatriz creating her song (her grandfather’s song) literally engulfed in flames. I was not completely sure if Beatriz was going to die or not in this accidental fire.
I read the readers copy of Jose Pinienta’s graphic novel and I am rating this a FIVE in hopes the ending scenes are as powerful as they look in the black and white illustrations. I am assuming it will be full color when published. What was shown in color does seem to fit with the text, color-wise, but the art itself is interesting. If it contains the things I think it will, and keeps the almost sketch-like aspects (but is very realistic too) there will be no happy pinks and yellows and sparkly ponies. Nor will it have “easy” images. What I love about the story is there is no traditional action. Usually that can be a drawback, but the action is in the lack of what we consider “big action.” There are no car chases or magical monsters to face. They go to school (or not). They play pool. They try to go to bars and not get carded. Beatriz and her friends must fight themselves. They must deal with living in Mexico in a world that is not easy for them. They deal with the everyday and their own hopes and dreams. They need to find their place, but not always sure of it or how to obtain it. They need to overcome selfishness and focus on real friendships. The world of mid-1990s to early 2000s in a Mexican town, comes to life.
This is a dark story of the obsession of perfection; of music and of life. But there is hope at the end of it all, too. For ages 14 and up, with heavy adult crossover appeal.
May 2020 is going to have Suncatcher and Stepping Stones I will telling everyone to read.