Review: Teen Boat! by Dave Roman & John Green

Teen Boat!
by Dave Roman & John Green

ISBN-13: 9-780547-636696
Publication: May 2012 from Clarion Books (HMH)
Rating: 3.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it

Teen Boat! is the Ignatz Award-winning story of a boy with the power to transform into a small yacht! From breaking out into barnacles to facing pirates and detention, all the challenges of adolescence are here with a nautical twist. Being a teen AND being a boat means dealing with a lot of pier pressure!

Teen Boat! is one interesting graphic novel. Broken into parts, the novel is divided into mini stories – almost like episodes in a television show. All deal with the adventures and antics of Teen Boat, a typical high school guy on the surface, but with the mysterious power to turn into a small yacht.

The panels in Teen Boat! are colourful and easy to follow, and the artwork is very easy on the eyes. The story is, like I said, a bunch of mini-episodes all with an overarching plot of Teen Boat in high school and his adventures. There’s a fun mystery with his friend Joey (who climbs through his window via ladder in the first story, very reminiscent of Joey in Dawson’s Creek) who we figure has some sort of changing power, too, only it’s not yet explored. Leaves something for the next book, I suppose!

Teen Boat! is a very random graphic novel, with a crazy premise, but good storytelling and artwork. I see elementary school kids getting a kick out of this one, and teens appreciating the humour and situations Teen Boat finds himself in.

Hardcover copy received from Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: Laddertop vol. 1 by Orson Scott Card & Emily Janice Card

Laddertop vol. 1
by Orson Scott Card & Emily Janice Card,
illustrated by Honoel A. Ibardolaza

ISBN-13: 9-780765-324603
Publication: September 2011 from Tor
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it

Twenty-five years ago, the alien Givers came to Earth. They gave the human race the greatest technology ever seen – four giant towers, known as Ladders, that rise 36, 000 miles into space and culminate in space stations that power the entire Earth. Then, for reasons unknown, the Givers disappeared. Because of the unique alien construction of the Laddertop stations, highly skilled children must perform the maintenance necessary to keep the power flowing.

On Earth, competition is fierce to enter Laddertop Academy – an honor few will achieve. Robbi and Azure, two eleven-year-old girls who are best friends, are promising candidates. They becomes entangled in a dangerous mystery that may solve the riddle of the Givers…if it doesn’t destroy the Earth first!

Laddertop vol. 1 by Orson Scott Card & Emily Janice Card is a fun foray into sci-fi graphic novels. If you’re a fan of Orson Scott Card it’s definitely worth picking up.

Robbi is chosen to go work in The Ladder, a structure left by aliens that extends up into space. Only children can fit into the webbing-like tubes in order to do maintenance and keep the Ladder in working order. Anyone who’s read the Ender books will definitely start feeling nostalgic in reading Laddertop. Though different aliens and plot, the idea of children being trained for a specific task, in space, is very familiar. It makes me wonder what the story would have read like if it was written in traditional novel format rather than as a graphic novel.

The artwork and layout of Laddertop reminds me strongly of manga and without the different hairstyles I would have found it difficult to keep the kids apart. The build up to the beginning of the mystery that Robbi finds herself a part of is interesting, and there’s enough information presented that I’m curious about what the aliens (the Givers) are up to and why they left the Ladders on Earth. One thing I chuckled at, there’s this one panel near the beginning of the book that has some drawings of different spaceships, and I’m pretty sure I saw not only a Borg cube and the Enterprise, but the TARDIS as well. So very neat.

Paperback copy received from Tor in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life vol. 1 by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life vol. 1
by Bryan Lee O’Malley
ISBN-13: 9-781932-664089
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it

Scott Pilgrim’s life is totally sweet. He’s 23 years old, he’s in a rock band, he’s “between jobs,” and he’s dating a cute high school girl. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. Will Scott’s awesome life get turned upside-down? Will he have to face Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle? The short answer is yes. The long answer is Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life.

Scott Pilgrim is such a fun graphic novel! Besides the fact that it takes place in Canada (yay!), the humour in the writing was the main feature that I enjoyed. At it’s base, Scott Pilgrim is the story of a 23 year-old Torontonian dating a high schooler. But he then falls for the new girl in town, Romona, and learns he must defeat her seven evil exs if he wants to keep dating her.

The story is hilarious in a witty, sarcastic kind of way. The fights resemble video games, with mystical powers and the enemy turning into coins when defeated. There’s garage-band rock music, sub-space highways and geekyness of the best kind. I’m not really qualified to judge art, but the panels are clean, easy to follow and very fun. Definitely a strong first volume and I’m very happy the others are already released – no waiting!

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks

Zombies Calling
by Faith Erin Hicks
ISBN-13: 9-781593-620790
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really, really liked it

Joss’s life sucks. She’s worrieda about exams and student loan debt when she’d much rather be watching the zombie movies she loves. So it’s no surprise that when she tells her roommates that she’s been attacked by a swarm of real-life, brain-hungering zombies – zombies! – they think the stress has finally cracked her.

But Joss knows she’s sane – and it’s a good thing, too! Because the zombies are real, and she’s the only one who knows how to fight them. Armed with “The Rules,” truths about fighting the undead gleaned from zombie movies, Joss, Sonnet and Robyn just might make it out of their dorm alive.

This is such a fun graphic novel! Joss is an intense zombie movie fan, so when zombies take over he university campus, all she has to do is play by “The Rules,” and she and her friends will survive brains intact.

I’m on a huge zombie kick, so this short but action packed graphic novel was right up my alley. Though only short, Joss was very well-imagined, and I liked her immediately. The idea of how the zombies came to be was great; I think every student would click with it. Oh, and the fact that Joss and her friends go to school in Canada? Even better! The whole story was interesting, well-drawn and fun. I think most zombie lovers would appreciate it.

Graphic Novels (6): Grimm Fairy Tales vol. 1

Grimm Fairy Tales vol. 1
by Joe Brusha & Ralph Tedesco

Red Riding Hood is forced to confront the insatiable hunger of a terrifying beast; Cinderella seeks a shocking vengeance for the years of torture she’s endured; Hansel and Gretel realize that the problems they left behind at home are nothing compared to the horror that awaits them on their ill-advised journey; a desperate girl makes a deal with the hideous Rumpelstiltskin only to find out she may lose more than she ever imagined; Sleeping Beauty learns that narcissism can be a very gruesome trait to possess and an envious sister finds her extreme measures to capture the man of her dreams may lead to much worse than just heartbreak from the Robber Bridegroom.

Grimm Fairy Tales vol. 1 includes the first six issues of the series. Each one deals with a different fairy tale, and the artists differ for each one, which gives each tale its own unique look and feel. The stories have an overarching character to tie them all together – she finds people who can benefit from her tellings of the fairy tales, but these are tellings like we’ve rarely heard before. Each tale is told with a darker intent; the message behind the fairy tale is made inherently creepy in order to turn a person away from the same path. Unlike Disney who took the original creepy, sad, or depressing fairy tales and gave them happy endings, the Grimm Fairy Tales are just that – grim. Even the fairy tales that were always lighter in nature are twisted; the stories keep the basic roots and premise of the original fairy tale but make them worse than they ever were.

There is definitely merit in already knowing the story being re-told. I had never heard the Robber Bridegroom fairy tale, so I had no idea where the story was leading. For ones like Litte Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel, I could easily guess what the “warning” in the story would be. But this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the tale because I didn’t know the outcome, in fact I liked having a completely new fairy tale to read (and the warnings are still pretty easy to guess). What I liked about the ones I did know, was seeing how the writers turned the story around to suit their darker intent. I’m definitely excited to see where the following volumes take the storyline!