Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Futureland and Prank You Very Much

Hunter, H.D. Futureland: Battle for the Park
November 8, 2022 by Random House Books for Young Readers 
E ARC provided by Netgalley

**Slight Spoiler in Weaknesses**

Cam Walker is considered lucky by some; in 2048, his parents own the flying amusement park Futureland, and the family lives on site! Futureland travels around to various locations to dock, and Cam's parents have decided to visit Atlanta, Georgia for a year in order for Cam to attend a public school and spend time with his grandmother. His uncle, Trey, also works at the park. Cam is apprehensive about starting school, but also a little excited. His only friend has been Dooley, a "rev" (Biomechanical Fabric-revelation) who has been engineered to look like his sister and is similar to an android. He meets some nice kids at school, Yusuf, Rich, Angel, Earl, and they later come to the park. The roll out hasn't gone smoothly, though; there are gorilla revs that are malfunctioning, and a girl goes missing after the park's opening. Things get stranger and stranger as Cam's parents don't seem like themselves at all, and even Dooley begins to exhibit unusual behavior. The safe mode for the entire park seems to have been disabled! There's a developer in Atlanta, Blaise Southmore, who is trying to work with the Atlanta Disuse and Redevelopment Corporation (not a real life organizaion), but he seems evil, especially after Cam has seen his name on suspicious papers in his parents office. One of Cam's favorite parts of Futureland is the Obsidian Imaginarium, that reads people's minds and uses this information to create a world where they can act out their innermost dreams. Cam doesn't want to run Futureland when he grows up; he wants to be a detective, so there are some graphic novel type pages that show him as a film noir, trench coated detective, and he practices his skills trying to figure out what is going wrong with the park. His grandmother doesn't quite believe him, but since she's about my age, she's seen Westworld and knows that having robots at a theme park is a bad idea! When his uncle is implicated in the disappearance of not one but two Atlanta area girls, Cam steps up his efforts to find out what has happened to his parents and the park. It seems likely that the girls are also hidden at the park, and finding them might give him more insight into what has happened to Dooley. Will he and his new friends, who immediately support him when things go wrong, be able to save the day?
Strengths: Amusements parks are usually very appealing to young people, most of whom have either been to one or heard about them. Here in Ohio, we have both Cedar Point and King's Island within a couple of hours drive. Futureland had the same kind of vibe that Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena had; tweens don't have to save the whole world, but they do have to save a very cool, smaller bit of it. Cam manages to fit into his new school well even though his fellow students are very interested in his connection to the park, and it's good that he has allies for his fight. His grandmother is a fun character, and I rather wished she could have been more involved in helping him investigate. The best thing about the book is the 2048 setting and a really, really cool theme park. The inclusion of the illustrated pages is fun. 
Weaknesses: After (highlight to see text) Dooley meets a bad end, there is a new logo for Futureland of her silhouette. Since she has two Afro puffs, wouldn't this look like... Mickey Mouse? Also, I need more information about the docking. Is Futureland above the city? Parked in a field outside? I just couldn't envision it. Perhaps the description is there and I missed it. 
What I really think: This will be a big hit with fans of Mancusi's Dragon Ops and Zhao's Last Gamer Standing and is a great way to introduce readers who love video games to science fiction!

Peirce, Lincoln. Big Nate: Prank You Very Much
November 29th 2022 by Andrews McMeel Publishing 
Copy provided by the publisher

Like Destined for Awesomeness, this book is a graphic novel retelling utilizing television show stills based on the novels which continue the story of characters from Peirce's comic strip. 

Let that sink in just a moment. 

That said, I had this sitting at the circulation desk, and had to fend off children who saw it and wanted to grab it immediately. While they aren't familiar with the comic strip in the newspaper (which debuted in 1991), they do love the collections of strips and the novel series. A surprising number of them are familiar with the Paramount Plus series, which I have never seen. While I'm not a fan of the television stills as graphic novels, my students would read War and Peace if it cast Big Nate in the leading role. 

Nate is a much more relatable character than other protagonists of Notebook Novels; he means well, is egocentric in the particular way that middle school aged children are, and pursues his own agendas, but he isn't mean. I love Peirce's sense of humor, and while I find Mrs. Godfrey more relatable, can appreciate all of the scrapes and antics in which Nate embroils himself. I did find it a little unusual that DeeDee show up to a substitute teacher's house and is invited in for tea, and there's a more evil undercurrent to some of the story lines that has appeared in the novels or comic strip, but this will be popular with the legions of Big Nate fans. This would make an excellent gift, along with a tube of flourescent tooth paste, and maybe some zit cream. (Sadly, the tooth paste seems to be fictional. I was going to get some for my brother!)

No comments:

Post a Comment