Book Reviews: Three Kid Graphics and Immortal Love/Hate

“Do we have to stop?” she whined.
“It’s a rule. Rest after 10 orgasms.”
“I can’t believe you were counting! That’s so sweet!”

Big Nate Thunka Thunka Thunka
A comic strip collection about a kid with all kinds of early-teenager problems, who relieves his stress by thunking an empty soda bottle—thankfully plastic—in the same way you would use bubble wrap. Despite that, there’s nothing original in the premise, so it’s up to the execution.
The first part is about Halloween candy; impressed the author could mine so many jokes there. I like the format; a whole week of one storyline, a Sunday special, then on to another plot. The poor bald dad is the guy who has to play butt monkey the most; the way his son reacts to almost asking him where the hair dryer is was perfect.
Best line: “I am that nobody!”
The best character is the dog who loves cats so much he falls in love with one; can’t give the award to the cat, because I’m allergic.
One thing was confusing, though: I came across only one instance of thunka thunka; must’ve used them all up in previous books.
All in all, funny enough.

Desmond Pucket and the Cloverfield Junior High Carnival of Horrors
I always make the distinction between graphic novels and stories with drawings; since this had a lot of talking in it, too much for speech bubbles, it’s thankfully the latter.
It’s the start of a new school year and the main character, who loves monsters and lives to scare people, not only gets the cushy class schedule, he gets to do his “What I did over the summer” creative writing project as a graphic novel. And he’s in tight with the girl he likes, if in the friend zone so far; life is good. . . until the twist! (Otherwise it would be a really short book.)
The reader has to be on the lookout to get all the nuances here, some written, others drawn. The library is “like Google exploded!” and the librarian with the fist pump when the kid shouts, “I found it!” is pure gold. There are friends and enemies, at least to start, thought it takes a lot of personality changes and heel-about-face to make the story work out in the end. I found the plot resolution a little weak, but at least I was able to read it without that most hideous of earworms running through my head. . . until I thought about it just now. Dammit!
After the story there’s a “make your own monsters” section. And snot. (Not actual snot, how to make it. Almost as bad.)
Smarter than most.

Li’l Rip Haywire Adventures: Escape from Camp Cooties
Here’s a tale about the son of a soldier of fortune who does all sorts of dangerous missions with his dad and his talking dog. Lots of flashbacks to his adventures, with riddles, cryptograms, labyrinths, and other games for you to help him with as he tries to survive being stuck in a summer camp with nothing but girls.
There’s a lot of subtle humor in here, don’t know if the kids in this age group would pick them all up, but it makes it more fun for the adults. He’s a cross between James Bond and Lara Croft, and sometimes the flashbacks go so over the top it’s truly hilarious. No doubt the most important lesson he learned was about teamwork, even with (shudder) girls!
After the story there’s some historical tidbits about people and places mentioned.

From Hell to Breakfast
Semi-immortal human—or something like that—is tasked by the god of the underworld to retrieve a succubus who escaped from Hell. . . I think. Don’t worry, it’s a rom-com. . . I think.
First of all, it took me a while to realize the main character was male, considering the cover and the fact it’s written in first person. More importantly, it didn’t take long at all for me to jump on Vinnie’s side, even though she’s the villain of the piece; Crixus is simply too much of a jerk to root for. That’s with the caveat that there’s a lot of backstory here I’m missing, as this appears to be part of a series, and not the first part.
I don’t know if this was meant to be a light comedy or a dark comedy; the main character gets killed over and over, in increasingly painful ways, but it’s treated as a joke. The worst part is, no matter what flavor of chocolate, I didn’t find that funny. It wasn’t the subject matter; it just wasn’t humorous. On the other hand, the rest of the writing, especially the dialog, is hilarious; there’s a lot of funny little moments that sneak up on you. Too bad it took looking through my notes to write this review to remember that.


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