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Buzz! Paperback – December 17, 2013

4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 360L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oni Press (December 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1620100886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1620100882
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,106,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 24, 2013
Format: Paperback
Set in a world which revolves around spelling bees, awkward teen Webster gets drawn into the world of illegal one-on-one street spelling bees. He's befriended by a pair of spelling outlaws after they see the potential in him and decide to enter him in the biggest spelling competition in the land. Can Webster defeat the most dangerous speller of them all and bring down the Spelluminati?

Published by Oni Press and drawn in Tessa Stone's Manga-influenced art style, Buzz! bears more than a passing resemblance to Oni's biggest success, Scott Pilgrim. Ananth Panagariya and Stone take the dull concept of spelling bees and jazz them up by making the letters that spell the words become actual weapons to attack opponents with so you get the Scott Pilgrim-ish lavish fight sequences. As you would expect in a comic with such a heavy emphasis on spelling bees ruling the world, the book is quite comedic and knowingly silly, a tone that's a lot like Scott Pilgrim's.

Stone's art style manages to make two people spelling obscure words seem extremely dramatic which is a helluva feat by itself. The opponents Webster go up against are also similarly outré from an immortal who has seen every language develop since man first appeared to a sorceress who magics up words.

I found the story to be a bit one-dimensional - we don't spend much time outside the tournament to learn more about the characters' wider world so that it restricts the reader from being fully drawn into the book. Given the huge cultural significance of spelling bees in this culture, I'd have liked to have seen it reflected in the architecture, or fashion, or dialogue rather than have the outside world be unaffected by it, besides cheering on spellers in a stadium.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fun and witty with a striking art style that I've come to expect from Tessa Stone, this is a blast for anyone to experience a very different kind of graphic novel. The world is developed without giving too much away, and the concepts introduced through the arc of the story are all really interesting and draw you further into the tale.
When I first got my copy, I sat down thinking to read a bit and move on, but I ended up devouring the whole thing in one go. Then went back for a second round to catch what I'd missed!
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Format: Paperback
ARC provided by NetGalley

In a world where spelling bees are regulated, illegal underground spelling bees become a way of life, where letters become weapons to defeat or harm your opponent. Young Webster and his sister Merriam live a quiet life studying for the sanctioned spelling bees...until the day Webster gets caught up in an underground Spelling Bee after impressing the Outlaw King, who grooms Webster to get into the regional Spelling Bee and expose the Spelluminati for the scoundrels they are! Along the way Webster makes friends with other underground champions and prepares to battle the one person he never thought would cross his path at the final battle.

Ananth is bit better known for his webcomic that he works on with Yuko Ota, called Johnny Wander (an autobiographical strip) but he branches into fiction here with this excellent, fast paced tale. You wouldn't think spelling could be fun, but Ananth turns it into a power to make letters come alive and makes it illegal outside of sanctioned events. It's a fast paced story with action, battles, and a couple of death matches and interesting and entertaining characters. I ended the book wanting more and I really hope they give it to us.

The art is Scott Pilgrimish in style, with sharp lines to create shadows and depth to the characters. The characters are well designed and Tessa does an excellent job of blending words in with the characters making sure that neither gets lost. The bulk of the book is black and white, with yellow used to accentuate the colors. And to be honest I wish they had chosen a different color or perhaps a different shade of yellow as it's a bit eye glaringly bright at times. Overall though great illustrations.
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Format: Paperback
Ananth writes a solid story. I would argue that only the most initial premise (spelling bees) is particularly original, but honestly, there are only so many stories in the world and the most important thing is a tale told well. In this, "Buzz!" is proof of the author's talent. It's a page-turner, with lots of action and snappy dialogue. The plot flows smoothly, and major events happen with enough regularity to keep things fresh. This does have the "high-stakes battle, then higher-stakes battle!" format like most "shounen manga". Personally, it works for me and it works for the purposes of the story, but some folk might be turned off. But hey, it's what it said on the cover. The characters are also utterly charming, and I would love to see more of them. I would rate the writing 4/5 -- better than serviceable, but not quite perfect.

The art, however, doesn't really live up to the story. The earlier review's comparison to Scott Pilgrim was apt, except that Scott Pilgrim had more comprehensible layouts. Now that's something I never thought I'd say! Independently, the characters are drawn in a way interpretable to the reader, but the composition is a mess and the transition between events is often unclear. A few times I actually wondered if a page was missing. I guess I would say the art is suited to standalone images, but lacks the comic fundamentals. It gets the job done, but writing of this caliber deserves better. (2.5-3/5)

At the end of the day, I'd recommend this comic, but with the disclaimer that you will probably need to re-read portions to get a clear idea of the action. Thankfully, the writing is good enough that this doesn't feel like a huge encumbrance.
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