Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review: Animal Crackers by Gene Luen Yang

Animal Crackers by Gene Luen Yang

This collection of stories are the very first published works by Gene Luen Yang, who I first discovered when reading his great work on the Avatar graphic novels (and he's currently writing Superman for DC Comics). These stories are written and drawn by Yang in a clean, simple style.

The first story is about Gordon Yamamoto, a not very smart high school bully who probably wouldn't be a bully if he wasn't hanging out with the wrong friend. Things change when Gordon discovers a microdroid hiding in his nose. The droid sends Gordon on a voyage of discovery that doesn't leave his home town, but does show him a more human way of living. The story is very different and original. I don't want to spoil all the surprises in it, so I won't say more than I really enjoyed it as a fantasy story with deeper themes.

The second story is about Loyola Chin, a high school girl who has strange dreams based on what food she eats. She's at the same high school as Gordon but has a different adventure related to the creator of the microdroids. This story is also fantastic and surprising in a good way. It captures the angst of high school life, the challenge of living as a Christian (though it isn't preachy or didactic), and the fear and wonder of the world to come.

The book ends with a sketchbook of character designs and a "bonus feature" describing Yang's original creative process (which includes strong encouragement for people who think they'd like to tell stories in this format).

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