There is a persistent rumor about a comic book called Malice. If you make the right offerings and say the right words during the correct ritual then the ruler of Malice, a man only known as Tall Jake will come and take you there. It is only a rumor, though. Right?
Luke and Heather, two London kids decide to try the ritual and promptly disappear. Seth is a friend of Luke's and the only clue he has about Luke's disappearance is that he mentioned Malice once. He and Kady, another friend, set out to the creepy bookstore, the only place where Malice is sold to investigate. They are horrified to see their friend Luke in the pages on the comic. Seth, longing for his own adventure and feeling a sort of teenaged discontent, decides to do the ritual to enter Malice and find Luke. Kady stays back in in real world London to figure out what is going on on this side.
What follows is an adventure that takes place in two worlds: One in dangerous, crazy toon-Malice where Seth must fight off weird monsters and mechanical beasts and the other in real-Life London where Kady is in a different kind of danger.
I must say this is one book where the cover is probably the best advertisement. It is a nice hard cover, brilliant crimson with a 3-D figure of Tall Jake looming on the outside, very striking and totally makes you pick the book up. I saw it at a bookfair during a parent/teacher conference and decided to get in for my 10 year old. He loved it. I decided to read it myself.
I liked it very well too. The story is extremely atmospheric and inventive. I've never read this author's work before so I had not expectations. I am not a huge consumer of YA books and thought it was definitely something that would appeal to younger audience, even it isn't precisely my taste. The story is written in combo on prose and graphic comic art. The written part of the story certainly moves right along although you get to a point where you understand that this is not a self contained story and there is going to be a sequel. Maybe this is why I felt some characterization suffered, especially in the case of Seth. Hopefully that is just a case of first-in-a-series-book-itis.
I am sad to say that graphic art part was a bit of a let down. I love graphic novels and the ones that speak to me the most are the ones that are wonderfully illustrated. I didn't especially love the illustrations here. My son, though thought they were fine.
All in all a pleasant way to spend a couple of afternoons and most definitely a winner for the YA set.