Maggie Tokuda-Hall finds inspiration for her books all around her and from her own life. Her last novel, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was inspired by a nine-year-old girl who used to come into the children’s bookshop where she worked.
Her new book, Squad, comes out of her own experiences in high school, where rape culture was normal, even rampant. What if, she wondered, there was a squad of teenage girls who turned into werewolves once a month and went after all the really bad boys — the sexually aggressive ones, the ones who don’t think "no" counts if you are at a party and everyone is drinking.
"When I was [in high school] it was extremely white." she remembers. "It’s very rich — that’s still true. It’s really privileged. Rape culture was really rampant, and I was really mad about it. Some of the things that I saw or the things that happened to me were kind of traumatizing, but I don’t feel like a traumatized person. I don’t feel like a victim, and I wanted to write a story that reflected that as well."
What follows is more than a revenge fantasy and more than a horror story. Tokuda-Hall turns a critical, yet compassionate eye on the issue of rape culture, patriarchy, and the meaning of consent.
"In my books," she says, "love is salvation. And I believe very fully in my heart that when we allow ourselves to love outside of what patriarchy has dictated for us, this entire other world of being, where all of these other systems of oppression are no longer relevant, can start to take shape."
What booksellers are saying about Squad
- Sharp and smart, this dark graphic novel is all about the relentless hunger of teenage girls, partying,
revenge, and doing whatever it takes to run with the coolest pack at school. Best enjoyed in one satisfying
gulp. ― Julie Jarema from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA
Buy from Avid Bookshop
- Mean Girls mixed with Teen Wolf? Squad is beyond words, but if I had to use some, these would be it. After Becca transfers to a new school, she worries about fitting in until she meets Marley, Arianna, and Mandy. At first she thinks they’re unnervingly perfect, but turns out their secret is even more intriguing than they are. I am absolutely blown away by Squad, I was thinking teen slasher flick from the cover, but it was so much more. It was a bloody coming of age with a dark twist of how things can go wrong when power gets out of control. The art work is gory and beautiful, this is going to be a breakaway hit. ―
Katlin Kerrison from Story on the Square in McDonough, GA
Buy from Story on the Square
- Move over, Plastics, there’s a new girl squad in town. Squad is a high school tale about transformational
friendship, belonging, and what we’ll do to fit in. It will absolutely sink its claws into you from the very first
page. (Puns ALL intended.) ―
Abby Rice from Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC
Buy from Foggy Pine Books
About Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle
Maggie Tokuda-Hall is the author of the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal–winning Also an Octopus and the young adult novel The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea. She received her BA in studio art from Scripps College and an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco, and has worked both for independent bookstores and for Apple Books. She is the host of several popular podcasts and lives in San Francisco with her husband, son, and objectively perfect dog.
Lisa Sterle is an artist with work spanning from comic books to concept designs to pop-culture-fueled illustration. She is the co-creator of the monthly comics Long Lost and Submerged, as well as the creator of The Modern Witch Tarot Deck. She received her BFA from Columbus College of Art & Design and currently resides in Columbus, Ohio.