Authors: Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher & Release Date: First Second (:01), May 2013
The Hook: This book was definitely on my radar because of the creators but it jumped to the top of the pile when I saw their Unshelved guest strip. Main characters Nate and Charlie rec’d Gordon Korman’s awesome MacDonald Hall series and I wanted more of their narration right away.
Originally published as a webcomic.
The Lowdown (from the jacket): “Charlie is the laid-back captain of the basketball team. Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. Their unlikely friendship nearly bites the dust when Nate declares war on the cheerleaders and the cheerleaders retaliate by making Charlie their figurehead in the ugliest class election campaign the school has ever seen. At stake? Student group funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms – but not both.”
Overall Impressions: Shen and Hicks created a contemporary, rather zany story that left a big grin on my face. Poor Charlie and the members of the Robotics Club get dragged along into ever escalating warfare between Club President Nate and the terrifying cheerleaders; the principal is unimpressed with everyone’s behavior. And then they have to work together in a Plan R. R for Robot Rumble. The story felt a bit like an homage to Bruno and Boots and their adventures at MacDonald Hall -I have deep, intense love for them- but it also felt like its own thing. Shen really appreciates the genre she’s working in and has some fun with clique and geek tropes.
Charlie’s also dealing with divorced parents – a geographically distant mother he doesn’t want to talk to and a father who’s often gone.
Hicks’ art is energetic and pulls you into the story – I was especially impressed with the basketball game, the Robot Rumble, and Charlie’s phone call while he’s jogging. The characters look like real people, not superheroes, and wear realistic clothing. The drawings are black, white and shades of gray, crisp and nuanced. She draws excellent puppy dog eyes and excellent intimidation eyes. I’d be kind of curious to see her do a Western.
Romance, unless it involves robots, is very low-key – refreshing! But what there is is sweet.
The Highs: The party that gets thrown at Charlie’s house. Please note, Charlie does not do the throwing.
Joanna. Joanna, Joanna, Joanna. Her eyes are clear, her fingers are deft, her love for robots (specifically, The Beast) is pure. And her fellow Robotics Club members respect her skills, knowledge and righteous anger. She’s the awesomest. She’s comfortable in her own skin.
The racially diverse student body.
The Robot Rumble itself.
Source: Bought at my local indie bookstore.
No chocolate or cash was exchanged for this review.