I didn't dislike The Secret Science Alliance at all, and in fact liked the first half very, very well. The illustrations are fun and intricate - there is much going on in each frame, and I love Julian Calendar's plan to leave his nerdiness behind (and I love his name, as I love the name of his family, Gregory, Maya, etc). Then Julian meets two other (secretly) nerdy inventors, and they form the secrets science alliance. I thought that was cool too. But what started out as a school story, ended up as a superhero story - and the two halves were woven together very well. Julian starts out as sort of the narrator, but he doesn't really continue in that role. Really, the storytelling wasn't tight enough. I think Davis was headed in a great direction, but I'm going to hazard a guess that length caused some problems - she only has so much space for the story (the problem with / challenge of graphic novels?). In order to combine those two stories more seemlessly, the book would probably have to have been much longer.
I wouldn't say "don't read this" but I didn't think it was brilliant. The illustrations - yes, absolutely incredible. Loved them, very traditional comics. But the storytelling was just shy of great.
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook: and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I liked the first half of this book - and I liked the second half of the book as well. (Artwork aside - I never feel like I'm knowledgeable enough to judge, I just know what I like and what I don't like, and I liked the classic-feeling illustrations in this immensely). But the connections between both halves were sort of tenuous. The first half - what could be called an origin story, I guess - is a very cute look at the life of Julian Calendar (ha ha - his sister and brother are named Gregory and Maya, big big smile now), ginger nerd, who wants to hide his nerdiness when he moves to a new school. Love it! So funny, so cute. He meets to secret nerds, and forms the secret science alliance. Love it! The second half has them trying to stop an evil, thieving grown up scientist who hates kids from pulling off a dastardly deed a la Scooby-Doo. Although my liking for this plot is weaker than my liking of the nerd to cool plot-line of the first part of the book, I still thought it was cool. But there isn't much cohesion between these two plots - once Julian Calendar (again, ha ha!) joins the science alliance, it's like those school problems vanish - and to me at least, that was the far more interesting part of the story. I think the book suffers from a problem with prescribed length. There was much more that needed to be added to this book, and couldn't, and I think that could be blamed on having to keep everything to a certain amount of pages (a bane to graphic novelists, I suspect, although also a great opportunity to hone storytelling). I certainly wouldn't throw this book in the dustbin, but I think it's just shying away from mediocre.
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