It is a lovely time to be a young reader of graphic novels, and rather nice for us parents of reluctant readers (my 12-year-old) that we have so many of them to offer. The Silver Six, by AJ Lieberman and Darren Rawlings (Graphix, June 2013), is the latest to arrive in my house, and it has been read multiple times with much enjoyment.
I thought, when I saw the title and the cover, that this would be a superhero book, which are not uncommon, but it turned out to be much more interesting. It's science fiction, with brave orphans (they're wearing orphan uniforms, not superhero costumes) saving Earth from environmental catastrophe at the hands of the evil, power-hungry, overlord of the energy extraction company that's wrecked the planet. Adding to the sci fi fun, there's space travel to an orphan moon, high tech weapons, and a very endearing robot!
Young Phoebe is one of six kids orphaned in a single shuttle crash--their parents, brilliant scientists, were on their way to talk to the aforementioned bad guy about an alternate energy source. The kids don't meet up until a year has past, when they find each other at a brutal orphanage. When they realize they have each been left one part to a final message from their parents, they escape to the orphan moon where the parents had been on the verge of a breakthrough. Though distracted by the unspoiled natural beauty of the moon, the kids come together as a team to solve the mystery of their parents' death.
Unfortunately, they are being pursued by a deadly weaponized probe, and Phoebe is captured. The bad guy must be defeated, Phoebe must be rescued, and the energy crisis solved...but how?????
Why it's worth offering to your child/reading yourself:
--Good story, beautifully and clearly illustrated. Lots of action, but some more peaceful interludes for people (ie me) who get dizzy when there's too much mayhem, and some nice bits of humor.
--Characters one can root for (and I do like that so many graphic novels with strong boy appeal have girl characters front and center!). They are smart, but believably so, and it's nice to see them come together as a team. That being said, there wasn't a lot of time to fully establish each one as a rounded character, but those who got the most round-ing had appealing individual identities. I liked that they missed their parents. I myself would want to be missed.
--There's a nod to diversity, with one girl of Japanese descent and one boy of Indian sub-continent descent
--I like the message, which is basically that reckless energy exploitation that has no regard for conseqences is bad.
So yeah, a very good one for readers from eight on up!
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher