Monday, March 24, 2008

Two Amazing Reviews by the Illustrious Katie D.!

by Brian K. Vaughn

How many times in your life have you thought your parents were evil? I’m guessing that would be a lot, especially if you’re a teenager. But what if they actually were? And I don’t mean confining you to your room, grounding you for life, or taking away TV priviledges. We’re talking secret-society, super-powers, blowing-up-Los-Angeles evil.

This is what a group of teenagers discover in the graphic novel Runaways, written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Adrian Alphona. It’s not your average superhero comic, and that’s what makes it interesting: instead of muscled-up, costumed heroes punching eachother out on top of the Empire State Building, you have normal teenagers faced with the fact that their families have been lying to them for years.

In the first volume of this entertaining series, at a yearly “get together,” the main characters, while exploring a passageway in Alex Wilder’s house, overhear a meeting where their parents, in full super-villain costumes, commit a yearly sacrifice for some unknown reason. Disturbed by this encounter and completely sure that something is very wrong, four of the five teenagers run away from home to try and find the body of the sacrifice. They end up not only finding a psychic velociraptor and some sort of ancient book, but having to save the fifth from all of their parents—something that’s easier said than done, as it turns out.

This graphic novel is a great new angle on the tired superhero genre, and totally fun to read. The dialogue is fresh and not too overdramatic (HA HA! I SHALL KILL YOU, et cetera…) and all of the characters, as you see later, have their own personalities. It’s the perfect blend of a little sci-fi, a little action, a little fantasy, and a whole lot of humor. Don’t worry if you can’t find the second book in the series—I couldn’t, either, but I managed to continue on to volume three and only miss a little.

As a student at Rogers CAPA middle school, I have had to suffer through weeks of teacher hysteria, spontaneous group craft projects, and people constantly being called out of class for costume fittings.

The source of all of this chaos was the one act plays by three Rogers 8th grade writers being performed, a whole-school activity that (un)fortunately, I wasn’t involved in. The scripts of these plays are available online at CafePress. Since I’ve been reading these plays since the earliest drafts, I thought I might review them here are prove that you should SO TOTALLY order the book, now.

The first of the plays presented in the book is “Entanglement” by Juliana Collins. The play, to sum it up in a sentence, is about the relationship of a couple from opposite sides of the class and race divide. The dialogue is spot-on, of course, and the idea was good, but (oh dear god Juliana will kill me for saying this) it ends up being a leetle bit *pinches fingers to show how leetle* unresolved at the end. Still, it’s a really interesting story.

The second play is my personal favorite. Entitled “My Blood Is Still Red” and written by Claire Matway, a hugely talented poet and writer, it’s about what happens to an average middle-class family when their teenaged son reveals a huge secret. What’s the secret? You really think I’m going to tell you?! Go read it and find out for yourself, already! There’s nothing I can say about this play except, IT’S. AMAZING.

DeeDee Reaves, the author of the play “Twists of Heaven and Earth” had better look out, because her play is going to be a little bit critically challenged in this review. Her dialogue is fast and funny and full of great pop culture references (the SpongeBob line is particularly great) but it just… falls apart into a scene that’s a little bit soppy and tries a little too hard to make the end seem very much like an after-school special. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy the plays, though *wink*

You can find the plays here.


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Teens said...

Awesome reviews, Katie! I think Runaways is pretty fantastic, though any story with psychic Velociraptors usually is.

Anonymous said...

Not just psychic velociraptors. There are:

-rather large purple monster thingies
-glowy eyes
-glowy people
-and much more glowy stuff :)

from Katie