An insect-obsessed sixth-grader must convince her snobby former best friend to join forces with her in order to save their mothers from a dastardly villain.
Twelve-year-old earnest, smart Amanda has been badly stung by her image-conscious friend Emily’s mean-girl behavior, which commenced at the same time they started middle school. When, however, their mothers go missing even as strange, monstrous creatures rampage through their town, a set of clues left behind by Amanda’s mother guides her to a new understanding about herself and about special powers she and Emily both possess. Readers will recognize the ugly social-clique dynamics depicted here and will enjoy the irony of Amanda’s reclamation of the once-taunting name “Bug Girl.” Stylized, cartoonish line drawings are featured on many pages, complementing the jazzy, futuristic design, and they match the novel’s playful tone well. The main characters all seem to be white, with the exception of Emily’s family’s Latina housekeeper, Frida. Amanda’s pal Vincent’s fashion know-how proves a boon to her, and her funny and sweet grandfather is genuinely endearing. A clear setup at the end suggests there will be more to come for this science-minded protagonist.
Bearing all the campy hallmarks and high drama of a classic superhero romp, this entertaining but formulaic tale also features interesting entomological tidbits throughout. (Adventure. 8-12)