Friday, 2 May 2014

Review: Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack

Cleopatra in Space is a graphic novel published by Graphix (an imprint of Scholastic) in May 2014. Aimed at readers ages 8-12, Cleopatra in Space is an absolutely fantastic graphic novel. Kids will love Cleo for how cool and relatable she is. Parents and educators can appreciate that this is a well-written and enjoyable graphic novel that kids will love coming back to again and again.

Summary: When fifteen-year-old Cleopatra (yes, THAT Cleopatra) finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, REALLY far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octavian. She enrolls in Yasiro Academy, a high-tech school with classes like algebra, biology, and alien languages (which Cleo could do without), and combat training (which is more Cleo's style). With help from her teacher Khensu, Cleo learns what it takes to be a great leader, while trying to figure out how she's going to get her homework done, make friends, avoid detention, and everything else that comes with being the future queen of the universe!

Parents and educators should be aware that a lot of the humour comes from Cleo's less admirable traits. She's fifteen-years-old; she's certainly not the Queen of Egypt we all know that she grows up to be. Cleo thinks school is boring, she skips classes and generally causes [harmless] trouble. But rebelliousness aside, she's also brave, friendly, confident, smart, and heroic. And while she dislikes school, her opinion changes when she starts taking classes that she really likes and excels at. This is a great lesson in life from Maihack! Math class may be painful, but one day soon, you'll get to take cool electives that will make learning a lot of fun!

Aside from the fact that this is a book starring Cleopatra, what I like best is the story's humour. Cleo is funny, but sometimes the humour is at her expense. I actually laughed aloud at how impressively, weirdly, and hilariously good at combat she is. No violence is shown, but the implication at the ease at which this little girl can take out bad guys is downright hilarious. Cleopatra is a little sassy and she kicks serious ass.

Cleopatra in Space is Egyptian history meets Star Wars. The ridiculousness of having a historical figure starring in a futuristic setting doesn't take away from the quality of the story. You don't even have to know who she is to understand the plot. Mike Maihack is a storytelling genius who has constructed an intelligent and unique action-packed adventure, introducing young readers to an important historical figure.

I recommend Cleopatra in Space to readers who enjoy fantasy/adventure graphic novels without a lot of heavy content.  It's light-hearted, accessible, and fun. This is a fast-paced read with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader interested. I'm eagerly awaiting the future books in this series!

4 Stars

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