I have to admit, when I was sent a review copy of Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, a YA graphic novel by Prudence Shen and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, I wasn’t as excited as I could be.
I’m a huge fan of Faith Erin Hicks. Her book Friends with Boysis one of my favorites. My daughter and I used it as our selection for our mother/daughter book club. In Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, Hicks was only doing the art.
The premise sounded like a cliche high school drama, pitting nerds against jocks. Eh. But I should have trusted that Hicks wouldn’t collaborate on something unless it was worth her mad skills. I, and my two teens, very much enjoyed it. Amusing dialogue, great art (duh), and characters that have fun with their stereotypes, tossing or flaunting them at a whim.
Charlie and Nate are neighbors and friends, even though their status at school is completely different. The story begins with a crazy car ride where Charlie informs Nate that his girlfriend Holly just broke up with him by text, no explanation. Nate responds, “What do you mean she’s not your girlfriend anymore? You’re captain of the basketball team. She’s head cheerleader! It’s an iron-clad high school rule you date Holly. To make the rest of us less-attractive-but-infinitely-smarter mortals hate you.”
Charlie is our main character, a nice guy who is using petty high school issues to distract him from the real problems at home (father who doesn’t listen, mother getting remarried). The school budget is allowing only one club, robotics or cheerleading, to get funds. The robotics team is headed by Nate, and they need the money to enter a big competition. The cheerleaders are headed by Holly who needs the money to buy new uniforms for their big event. Holly and Nate have the same idea to get someone to run for student council that will vote for their cause. Nate nominates himself, and Holly nominates Charlie against his will. The battle begins.
Charlie: This isn’t my fault!
Nate: I will kill and eat you!
Charlie: But you’re lactose intolerant! I had milk this morning! (runs away)
Nate: I’ll risk it!
The story quickly moves from this teen movie plot into more interesting territory. The characters all have to interact in new ways, learning and helping each other achieve their goals, and deal with what really matters. It’s funny, sweet, and with killer robot battles! I recommend it for junior high and up.