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UNPLUGGED AND UNPOPULAR

Fast-paced, full-color fluff appealing to voracious sci-fi comic fans but few others.

In the near future, a young girl and her friends fend off fuzzy purple extraterrestrials intent on domination.

Erin Song lives in a world dependent on smartphones and the internet, devoid of handwriting, bookstores, and DVDs. Erin’s quest for popularity leads her to help the most popular girl in school cheat on a test. Inevitably, the scheme quickly falls apart. Erin’s outraged boredom at her revoked technology privileges turns to panic when she realizes Culver City has been invaded by ETs using computers, smartphones, and TVs to transmit false information and erase any memory of the humans they abduct—including Erin’s older brother. Can Erin and a gang of elderly Luddites defeat the aliens? Divided into five long chapters, this humorous, intergenerational story relies heavily on the digitally inked, full-color illustrations. Expressive characters, enticing layouts, and a pastel color scheme add comedic flair. Although there are a few plot points that get lost amid the sequential panels, overall the visual storytelling is clear. Unfortunately, top-notch illustrations cannot overcome a predictable plotline, underdeveloped characters, and a heavy-handed message. The final battle is awash with fun gadgets, but victory is disappointingly swift, too easily won. The illustrations depict Erin as mixed-race (white mother, Asian father) and show a realistically diverse community, yet the text fails to develop the supporting characters. Finally, lacking nuance, the beware-of-too-much-technology moral drags down the story.

Fast-paced, full-color fluff appealing to voracious sci-fi comic fans but few others. (Graphic science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62010-680-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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