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Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity Paperback – June 7, 2011
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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Hakata Soy's past life as the leader of a futuristic super team won't stay in the past!
The former space hero is doing his best to keep his head down at Astronaut Academy. Things aren't going so great, though. The most popular girl in school has it in for him. His best friend won't return his calls. And his new roommate is a complete jock who only cares about Fireball.
Hakata just wants to make a fresh start. But how will he find time to study Anti-Gravity Gymnastics and Tactical Randomness when he's got a robot doppelganger on its way to kill him?
A Look Inside Astronaut Academy
(Click on Images to Enlarge)
|Welcome to Astronaut Academy!||A diverse curriculum|
|My name is Hakata Soy||"Well, this is the place."|
"Roman previously adapted the X-men as a shojo manga, so he certainly knows his way around the "special academy" story. ...The artwork is very cartoony and cute, and uses free-floating layouts to add to the whimsy." - Publishers Weekly
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Most of the students and teachers are perplexed by the new student. Some want to be friends with Hakata, others are destined to be enemies. But everyone wants to know why he's not as cool as he used to be. (Hakata is actually on the run from enemies he ran afoul of and is trying to lay low.)
Astronaut Academy reminds me of a series of books from the 80s called Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Each chapter focuses on one character and their perspectives and interactions with others. Each segment can be read alone as it's own story or together as a thrilling novel about bravery and friendship.
This book started off really strange. The flow just felt all wrong for some reason. Some of this is because the first 2-3 segments are framed like TV-commercials for the academy. But it's not until we meet the character of Hiro does things really seem to gel.
Hiro loves to space walk. He is so fond of it, he always wears his space suit. Often he sneaks out of class to play hooky by floating in space. Honestly, his static look at life makes him the star of this book.
Once characters like Hiro kept popping back up into the story, I felt like we had a winner on our hands. The art is a little crude but the overall story is enjoyable once a solid continuity was created. If your child enjoys books on life at a strange schools like Wayside or the Jedi Academy series, Astronaut Academy would be another fun place for youngsters to tour.
Only 1 other book (AA: Re-Entry) has been published in this series by the versatile Roman. It make take about 30 pages to really hit it's stride, but this series is worth sticking around with. This book by First: Second is lots of fun to read. It would make an ideal summer reader!
Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity is the first of at least two planned books (the sequel probably coming out next year). It tells the story of Hakata Soy as the new kid at Astronaut Academy as he settles into the school and gets used to his classmates (who honestly, are just a wee bit weird) and tries to catch up to his classwork (he was held captive by his archenemies for a few weeks so was late to the start of school.) And as he settles in he discovers his enemies are still out there and maybe on their way. In the meantime Hakata has to navigate the weird waters of his classmates and hopefully make a couple of friends along the way.
This has been a bit difficult of a book for me to review and I think that the main problem is that I'm not the target audience. The book is really meant for ages 7 to 14ish. And unlike other books for that age group (like Owly) it doesn't translate well for adults. The biggest problems for me are the sense of humor and the way the story has multiple subchapters, each only lasting a few pages, and then switching to another viewpoint. It's not a bad thing, it just comes close to doing my head in at the moment. So for adults...put yourself in the mindset of a 8 year old and go hog wild.
But for kids...I think they'd really enjoy it, especially elementary age kids. It reads like how you often hear them talk and tell stories. And the fact that it switches viewpoints every few pages is a bonus because it allows for kids to find the character they identify with. It reminds me a lot of some of the current cartoons on television today (I mean that in the best way possible) and the story isn't something that you would regret letting your kid read. The artwork suits the story well and reminds me a lot of the artwork from the cartoon "Kids Next Door" (come to think of it so does the storytelling.)
It's a romping good adventure if you're the right age (or have the right mindset) and I'd highly recommend it.