The Dysasters: A Graphic Novel; Vol. 1

Wednesday Bks. Feb. 2020. 128p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781250268778.
Gr 9 Up–Foster and Tate have never been exactly ordinary, but when they are thrown together in the midst of a giant tornado that kills their families, they team up to discover they both have an extraordinary ability to manipulate air. They learn that they are part of a group of eight teenagers who were genetically modified at birth to control the elements: air, water, fire, and earth. All are being hunted by the brilliant but twisted scientist who experimented on them and now wants to capture and exploit them. This graphic novel is a fully illustrated version of the prose book, which also featured some of the same artwork. The characters are one-dimensional and overly dramatic; rather than creating authentic, believable characters, the authors throw every teenage trope into the mix. The one exception is a transgender girl whose struggle for acceptance is touching and realistic. The dialogue is cheesy and superficial and often seems disconnected from the story—there is a disproportionate amount of snark and swearing despite the overly sweet underlying theme of love being stronger than hate. The panels are creatively positioned and sized, which moves the action along at breakneck speed, and feature intricate but unfortunately unattractive two-color illustrations. Continually in the throes of intense emotions, the characters contort their faces into outlandish caricatures that make the constant theatrics seem ridiculous and even laughable.
VERDICT A clichéd story line and characters, unnatural dialogue, and weak artwork make this a graphic novel that will most likely appeal only to die-hard fans of the authors or the original book.

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