Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lord of the Flies Meets Mad Max

Tribes: The Dog Years
They aren't kidding when they say you "pay for the art" when you buy a graphic novel! Sadly, my book budget can't afford too many of them. But alas, my post-apocalyptic craze couldn't keep me away from this gem, and I am glad I couldn't resist it! Tribes: The Dog Years is the start to a brilliant series set hundreds of years after a nanovirus reduces the human lifespan to 21 years. Now the world is run by tribes of teenagers... scary isn't it?!

Sundog belongs to a tribe, the Sky Shadows, who believe the humans were punished for their wicked ways. They live beyond the tumbling ruins and keep to themselves, when they aren't being tormented by a headhunter tribe, of course. When Fallingstar, the girl Sundog loves but can never have, is promised to the new chief, Sundog accepts his fate and continues his duties. On watch one night, he sees a marvel he can't understand- a helicopter is flying directly at him! Helicopters haven't flown in centuries! When Sundog finds the crash site, he sees an ancient- a man clearly in his fifth or sixth decade who can't be real.

When they take him back to the tribe, the shaman of the tribe wants him killed, so Sundog and Fallingstar break out the old man and run away with him. They travel to the lab the old man claims has the only cure to the nanovirus that has run the world for 300 years. On their way, they are captured by the headhunter tribe. In a holding cage they meet two other kids from two different tribes: one from a tribe that specializes in gadgets and tinkering and another who lost her entire tribe to the headhunters. Together, they escape and continue to the lab, but the headhunters follow them. Now they must find a way to escape and get the cure to the old man's people in the city beneath the sea. Can they survive long enough to get there? To be continued...

Not only is this a BEAUTIFULLY illustrated graphic novel, but it also has something you don't find often in graphic novels- it would only be rated PG-13! Do you understand how difficult it is to find a graphic novel that doesn't have very adult language and situations? I have a great PA graphic novel series called Y: The Last Man that I would love to give to students, but it really is a fairly mature series. The beauty of Tribes is that it is exciting, incredibly illustrated, and clean! This would be a perfect book for students of all ages!

The writing is fairly simple. The only possible confusion is the pattern the frames run in. Most graphic novels run in panels left to right, up to down, but this one deviates from that often. There are a lot of small insets and confusing frame patterns. I can imagine it might confuse or distract a student occasionally, but this doesn't detract horribly from the merits of this story. I think the series (and I can't wait for the next volume) would be perfect for boys and girls alike, but especially boys. There is enough action for everyone!

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