4 out of 4 stars
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"How can an African-American high school kid from south Mississippi explain having a cosmic powered spaceship?" Imagine it's 1969, and you are a high school senior; now imagine there's a spaceship in your garage laboratory. Follow the adventurous journey in the sci-fi fantasy, For the Sake of a Friend, by Clarence H. Franklin.
Clarence and his close-knit group of friends secretly call themselves the Space Travelers, but after their dangerous trip last summer, their parents literally grounded them from space travel. However, when an experiment goes awry with possibly life-altering consequences for Clarence, the solution is reducite; a resource that can only be found on Pluto. Concerned for their son, Clarence's parents convince several of the other parents to allow their kids to return for a "quick trip" to Pluto. Owida, Leon, Bennie, Kate, and the newest member of the team, Roberta, join Clarence for an overnight excursion intending to be home in time for Thanksgiving dinner the following day. However, the experiment isn't the only thing that doesn't go according to plan; complications arise, and this may be the team's most dangerous expedition yet.
I rarely read sci-fi or fantasy, but after taking a peek at the Amazon sample, I was intrigued by Franklin's introduction and illustrations. The distinctive cast of characters is based on Franklin's friends from high school during the late 60s to early 70s. He described himself as a nerd who enjoyed collecting comic books and watching Star Trek. Though I'm not a "Trekkie" myself, my brothers are, and when I read that Franklin started writing and illustrating in high school, I was hooked. The action-packed story includes a diverse assortment of aliens and inventive space gadgets. Although the plot is a tad predictable, it is still engaging and amusing.
I particularly liked the colorful illustrations which reflect Franklin's love of comic books and really bring the story to life. From the groovy space uniforms to the afro hairstyles, Franklin truly captures the 60s-70s vibe. So much so, that I would have enjoyed seeing more of them; I counted 14 illustrations in the 194-page book. While the image size is on the small side--about a fourth of the page--I was able to enlarge the illustrations for a more detailed view.
I honestly can't think of anything I disliked about the book. In addition to being professionally edited, as a sci-fi that doesn't take itself too seriously, it's a fun read. Considering that I am not typically a fan of sci-fi, that's high praise. I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers ranging from young teens to adults who enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, and comics. However, as I've demonstrated, it may also appeal to those who are not usually drawn to sci-fi but appreciate the illustrations and humor.
For The Sake of A Friend
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