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Hopeless Savages: Greatest Hits 2000-2010 Paperback – October 19, 2010
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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*Starred Review* After their career as punk rockers, Dirk Hopeless and his wife, Nikki Savage, attempted something truly edgy�raising kids in the suburbs. As their youngest daughter, Zero, navigates the dangerous waters of high school, readers are taken into the home of a family that is all too ordinary, despite reality-TV crews, kidnappings, and international espionage. Together with her older brothers Rat and Twitch and big sister Arsenal, Zero discovers that family�like a band�is strongest when it sticks together. Van Meter�s rocking graphic-novel trilogy is collected here into one omnibus edition. Humor, drama, and over-the-top action are combined in just the right amounts, with the action used to highlight the thoughtful subplots, which explore themes of relationship building, parental expectations, and rebellion against societal norms. Illustrated by a host of hip and talented artists�including Bryan Lee O�Malley, Ross Campbell, Andi Watson, and Chynna Clugston Flores�and with only comic violence, mild swearing, and no sex, Hopeless Savages is a terrific choice for both adult and teen graphic-novel collections. Grades 8-12. --Snow Wildsmith
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My only complaint is that different artists draw different chapters, which which can make keeping the characters straight challenging...but I can live with that. What cost the fifth star was that one or two of the artists have a hard time making the characters look different from each other. If Artist One's Twitch looks different different from Artist Two's, that's one thing. It's another when Artist Three has a hard time making Twitch look different from his boyfriend Henry.
Still, it brought back fond memories of hours spent reading Love & Rockets many moons ago.
The Hopeless-Savage clan is comprised of two parents who met during their careers as punk rock musicians, then settled down to have four children, in a suburban setting which isn't always the best match. Whether they're foiling their parents' kidnapping, de-brainwashing their oldest brother who is working for a corporate coffee chain, or living through a documentary film crew following them around, the Hopeless-Savages make up one of the most genuine and wonderful families I've had the pleasure to read about.
The first arc is centered on the youngest daughter, Skank Zero Hopeless-Savage. (Um, yeah, there's a lot of "language" in this book, just so you know.) We also get good arcs about each older sibling, including her gay older brother Twitch and his (awwwww!) sweet relationship with his boyfriend. His lost romance and his little sister's fledgling one collide beautifully at one point, and it's so sweet it practically brought me to happy tears. This is is not a "suffer because you're gay" story. This is a "sometimes love is hard, and sometimes it's awesome" story with a happy ending.
Writer Jen van Meter sketches the characters brilliantly, making each one you’d like to know and spend time with, plus she’s got a wonderful felicity for made-up slang. In the first story, the kids have to work together to rescue their kidnapped parents. Then Zero starts to struggle with dating and mistaken impressions others have about a famous kid, while her family’s being filmed for a “where are they now” TV special. In the last long story, Arsenal and Twitch (who are dating brothers) are off to Hong Kong for a martial arts tournament while the others cope with their fundie grandmother and her picketing pastor. So there’s action-adventure, a high school romance, and a globetrotting spy thriller — see how versatile this concept is?
In addition to the three major stories, there are three shorter flashbacks with Zero and her friends (and later bandmates), plus six short-shorts, four in color. Most are pictures of the kids when they were younger, except for one happy ending with Twitch and his boyfriend. I think my favorites are these little backups, because they’re so funny and loving, especially with the youngest Zero. (Review originally appeared at ComicsWorthReading.com.)
However, although the series is mostly about Zero one of my favorite sections was the subplot devoted to her older brother Twitch and his account of his ill luck with love. There's quite a bit of character development in Ground Zero for all of the family members. Ground Zero manages to be sweet without being cloying and the characters are both likeable and believable.
There are several different artists who do drawings for this collection but for the most part their styles are consistent enough that it's pretty easy to figure out who is who from section to section.