Book Review #23: Recess Warriors: Hero is a Four-letter Word

29772862This book was so dumb in the best way possible. It had a Codename: Kids Next Door meets Teamo Supremo meets Recess feel. The story’s so surreal! The line between what’s real and imaginative is seriously blurred and that makes things so entertaining!

STORY:

“I love the beginning of things…I just hate endings” (pg 123).

In Recess Warriors: Hero is a Four-letter Word by Marcus Emerson (144 pages), recess is serious business because it’s when Bryce a.k.a James Scrap (minus the James) does his vigilante business. He’s accompanied by his much more qualified best friend— sidekick— Yoshi (Caitlyn Yoshimura), and the two have to navigate through a cooties epidemic that’s affecting both boys and girls and a shady pirate gang.

This book evoked a sense of nostalgia in me, and I felt like I was a kid again in my bedroom eating goldfish crackers and downing a Capri Sun. Everyone probably won’t have that same sentimental feeling, but I did find the storyline silly and interesting.

CHARACTERS:

Bryce/Scrap is indubitably dumb and funny.

I liked Yoshi a lot! Even though she was a great leader and a skilled fighter (she can do some serious biz with her jump rope), she didn’t come off as a know-it-all or a brat. Sometimes, she’s just as confused as we (read: readers) with the junk that goes on during recess.

Clinton was my favorite. Anti-heroes are always cool in any form.

Juliet should have been a grating character, really, but with how she was presented I was able to take her lovesick personality.

ART:

I like the wonky, blocky, and angular style. It has that Saturday morning cartoon feel. Sometimes, the faces look a bit sunken in during close-ups though. The backgrounds and color direction are vivid and fun.

OVERALL:

Some kid (or adult or teen or elder or alien or….) is really going to have fun reading this. I am excited for the next book in the series.

Book Review #3: Oddly Normal (Book 1)

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“It’s the eyes. It’s the staring. Stick and stones and all that… I’m numb to it all. But I’ll never get used to the staring.”

STORY:
Oddly Normal by Otis Frampton (128 pages), the main character’s name, by the way, is about a girl who isn’t normal. Shocker. She’s half-witch from her mom’s side, which somehow appears in the form of green hair and elf ears. Oddly doesn’t fit in at school because kids can be cruel. When her magical auntie offers to take her to Fignation, the world her mom is from, she jumps at the chance to be with other like-minded weird kids. Well, if you didn’t know she doesn’t fit in at Fignation’s supernatural school either. In a very cliché way, she does find solace with the school’s band of misfits, a hunchback, Frankenstein, and ghost.

ART:
I think the cartoon style works well, though Oddly’s head is huge compared to her body. I wish Oddly’s face was a bit more expressive. I love the color direction, as each page has a different color scheme. The backgrounds are nice and imaginative with fluffy cotton trees and other fantasy elements.

CHARACTERS:
I’ve seen characters like Oddly before, who are misunderstood and come from a magical lineage. Nothing about Oddly stands out to me, but I’m sympathetic to her plight. She’s basically been bullied her entire life, and it realistically wears on her. Her parents are too dense for their own good and don’t understand their baby’s problems. Pretty relatable! Her catchphrase “figures” is funny too.

For the first volume, there isn’t much character exploration besides Oddly, which makes sense. Readers should connect with the first character before others are introduced. Still, the green guy of the bully crew (a full-blooded witch or warlock, I guess) with the black cat is interesting. He’s a jerk of course because all the kids at Oddly’s schools lack common decency, but something about him captured my eye. Maybe it’s his design? Every other character looks basic, but the green-guy looks stylish! And, he has a magical animal buddy, which I always love.

Also, Misty McCloud is just adorable. Sweetest ghost ever!

OVERALL:
Would I have read this as an actual novel? Nah. For me, without the graphics, I would have passed on this title. I want the characters to be fleshed out more as well. The bullies of the school seem to be mean just for the sake of meanness. I know kids don’t need a reason to pick on someone, but Oddly’s supernatural bullies are just vicious. Sadly the nice misfits are nice for the sake of niceness too. Still, I think this is a good read for reluctant readers because it’s not too plot-heavy and most children can relate to Oddly feeling like an outsider.

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