Friday, June 01, 2012

Teen Boat! by Dave Roman and John Green

Teen Boat! by Dave Roman (author) and John Green (illustrator)

Release Date
: May 8th 2012
Pages: 144
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Buy It: Book Depository
High school can be a time of terrible angst—Fs on tests, bullying jerks, broken hearts, and late-stage puberty are just some of the potential issues that all teen boys face. But what about the issues facing a Teen Boat?
Whoops! When I got Teen Boat! in the mail I thought the illustrations were by some guy named Dave Roman (actually a well-established author of graphic novels) and that John Green, like Looking For Alaska John Green, was the writer. Turns out John Green is also the name of an illustrator, with a few titles under his belt. So there was definitely an adjustment when I started reading Teen Boat! but it didn't take long for me to start enjoying its unique charm.

At it's heart, this is really an absurd graphic novel, and in that sense it reminded me of this series that used to be really popular when I was a kid, Captain Underpants. I really think this book would be perfect for the same kind of elementary school aged audience. Green's drawings are really well done, and they capture the boy-to-boat transformation in a way that makes it seem slightly less ridiculous than it actually is, and just as awesome.

Teen Boat Transformation © Dave Roman and John Green
Roman's words work perfectly with Green's drawings and it wasn't a surprise for me to read these two guys are best friends. The book just has a perfect harmony between text and image. I especially appreciated Roman's many nautical puns, they had me chuckling out loud quite a few times. What I didn't like was Teen Boat's treatment of his best friend Joey, a girl that clearly has a crush on him– but I honestly couldn't tell you why, since all he does is treatment her like dirt and assume that she'll always be there. I would have loved a little more development on that storyline, at least having Joey stand up for herself a bit even if Teen Boat didn't realize what he did was wrong. Instead, she just crushed on him more.

Weak female character aside, Teen Boat! was a cute read, and definitely outside of my usual picks. If I'd known that it was the wrong John Green, I don't know if I would have read it, and so in the end I'm grateful for that mishap; one that belongs perfectly among the befuddled pages of the book itself. In the end, this is an odd and charming book with great drawings and a crazy storyline that doesn't take itself too seriously; Teen Boat! is a great choice for middle grade and the younger spectrum of young adult readers. But even if you're a bit– or like me, a lot– older it's a funny reminder about why I'm so glad that I'm not a teen anymore!

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