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WHO IS AC? by Hope Larson


by Hope Larson ; illustrated by Tintin Pantoja

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: April 16th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4424-6540-4
Publisher: Atheneum

This origin story of an unlikely teen superhero will have readers begging for more.

Lin is not happy about her family’s move to tiny, college-town Barnhurst. She whiles away the summer before her sophomore year writing a fantasy zine. Meanwhile, geeky Trace, manager of the copy shop where Lin produces her zine, is trying to romance unhappy, well-to-do Mel, who pours out her heart on her blog. One evening, a masked robber holds up the copy shop; in trying to call 911 on her cellphone, Lin activates a mechanism that transforms her into a superhero, complete with costume, spear and signature shower of flower petals. It seems to have been engineered by a shadowy figure at a faraway keyboard, who also has an interest in Mel, whom he turns into a physically manifesting digital troll. Larson gets a lot right with this story: Lin is an enormously likable protagonist, and both her unhappiness and her literary aspirations are easy to understand and relate to. Secondary characters—in particular Lin’s family—are satisfyingly complex. Pantoja’s black-and-white panels take on purple accents with the introduction of fantasy elements; their muscular lines ably complement Larson’s characterizations. But the story itself is all setup with no conclusion, and a sophisticated digital-dangers theme doesn’t get enough space to develop coherently.

The story needs sequels; if they are provided, readers will want to return to Lin and Barnhurst for more. (Graphic fantasy. 12-16)