3 out of 4 stars
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I've felt pretty confident in saying that there are bullies and gangs of every race, color, and creed, but only now am I including those who are green, purple, and pink. In Stephanie Conlon's graphic novel, Alien Rove, Daniel and Steven are green-hued teenagers of the planet Glora, and they are victims of bullying, going through the trials of peer pressure and judgement.
Members of System 7 are attempting to recruit children and teens to their group, promising a future involving more than "just farming," a future including chances to lead, to have friends, and more unnamed opportunities. Brothers Danny and Steve, however, are not interested, but the gang's leader refuses to take no for an answer. The situation soon becomes a matter of life or death. Will the brothers give in, or will they die standing up for themselves?
With themes of self-confidence and peer pressure, I think this is a great little book for the suggested age group (12 and up). The storyline is simple enough, and the main characters are engaging and realistic, allowing readers to see themselves in the boys, even though they're extraterrestrial beings. The story is also filled with humor, lightening the subject matter. There is violence but nothing too graphic, so I feel that it is appropriate for tweens. Since the book is rather short at 70 pages, the author wasn't able to give a lot of background information. Still, it seems like this may only be the first book in a series, so I hope more answers will be forthcoming. With that being said, as a former victim of bullying, I am still able to commiserate with Danny and Steven, so the lack of a backstory hasn't left me feeling indifferent to their plight.
I adore graphic novels, and I think this is the perfect form for this story to take place. The panels are ordered well, and there is no confusion about which frame to go to next. The characters are also illustrated nicely, though the bad guys look more alienlike than the protagonists do. I especially like bully Misty's look. My one disappointment is that the background doesn't convey much of an alien planet, so it looks like the actions could have taken place in pretty much any city in any country. There are a few nods to technological advancements though, and they are nice to see.
My greatest disappointment in Alien Rove is the inordinate amount of typographical missteps in the book. With errors in nearly every panel, I am fairly certain that this book was not edited at all. The myriad mistakes run the gamut from punctuation mishaps to misspellings to missing words. Worst of all are the rampant errors with homophones, most notably the use of "their" when it should be "they're" and "your" when "you're" would be correct. These problems made the tome so difficult to read that I nearly gave up before reaching the fifth page. I, therefore, very strongly urge Ms. Conlon to have this book, as well as any others in the series, professionally edited.
Due to the aforementioned grammatical issues, I am forced to give this graphic novel 3 out of 4 stars. However, I do still recommend it to young teens or even older readers who are concerned with gangs, bullying, and peer pressure. Parents and school counselors may also find something useful in this book. Lastly, fans of graphic novels may like this one as well.
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