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Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity Paperback – June 7, 2011
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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."|
About the Author
Two-time New York Times bestselling writer-illustrator Dave Roman is the creator of Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery. Roman has contributed stories to the Flight series, and has written comics and manga for X-Men and The Last Airbender. He lives in New York City with his wife, Raina Telgemeier.
Top Customer Reviews
The story is about a group of students attending a school in outer space, and the main narrative bounces around to be explored from the viewpoints of the various students and teachers. Each chapter is a mini-story about one of the students, sometimes in the context of the larger story, sometimes as a tangent. As we get to know these characters we're constantly reminded of the dread looming over former space hero and newest student Hakata Soy as his past slowly catches up to him.
The author is a former editor of Nickelodeon Magazine, so it shouldn't surprise me that his book reminds me of the kinds of comics I used to love reading in '80s kids' publications like Hot Dog! magazine. It's a buoyant story, full of references to cartoon and toy franchises that 20- and 30-somethings will recognize. There are adventure teams whose space vehicles combine into a super warrior robot, a "Guidance Chancellor" with a chrome plate over his face, dinosaur driving, and bunnies, bunnies, bunnies. What's most exciting to me about this book is the complete absence of an adult mindset; there is not the slightest hint of irony, neither do you find the breathless affectation of a storyteller who speaks down to children. It bears repeating: Dave truly remembers what it was like to be a kid, and it shows in his work.
If you're looking for a really, really good comic for a young person or for that someone who sighs fondly when you mention Hot Dog! magazine, get it for them.
Did I mention it even has a neat foil cover that reminds me of Lazer Blazers? Everything about this book makes me feel like I'm 8-years-old again. One of the best things I've read this year.
I loved this book and laughed out loud on every page. The author unapologetically parodies every style of comic from anime, super-hero, mecha, romance. If you love comics pick up this book and laugh at every little panel, from the book titles kids hold in their hands, to the principal explaining the Academy to parents ...it's hilarious.
But it is not just funny, there are also beautifully presented themes that permeate the book such as "hearts," heart classes, hearts in containers, hearts taken out, hearts broken and repaired. This from student, Marcos Stamatis, "by the time I retrieved my heart, it was shattered in two. I did get it mended, but now whenever I reabsorb it, my body feels overwhelmed and out of balance"...these phrases along with Marcos floating amongst the stars was so poetic and perhaps underappreciated under the cutesy artwork.
With regards to the artwork.... on the surface, it appears simple and childlike, but writer and artist, Dave Ramon is the master of his trade, and the simplest twitch of an eyebrow can express many meanings. Look at Guidance Counselor Bee who has a mirror helmet for a head, yet in every panel, his hands clearly expresses what he means when he works with the kids.
My favorite class, Tactical Randomness Workshop, were students pretend to be a sign post or a butterfly is just one of many stories in this book, another, The Battle of the bunnies of Hoppiton against the crow-people is another...all in a day for students at the Astronaut Academy.
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.