07 February 2017

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

Summary from Goodreads:
WHO RUNS THE WORLD? SQUIRRELS! Fourteen-year-old Doreen Green moved from sunny California to the suburbs of New Jersey. She must start at a new school, make new friends, and continue to hide her tail. Yep, Doreen has the powers of . . . a squirrel! After failing at several attempts to find her new BFF, Doreen feels lonely and trapped, liked a caged animal. Then one day Doreen uses her extraordinary powers to stop a group of troublemakers from causing mischief in the neighborhood, and her whole life changes. Everyone at school is talking about it! Doreen contemplates becoming a full-fledged Super Hero. And thus, Squirrel Girl is born! She saves cats from trees, keeps the sidewalks clean, and dissuades vandalism. All is well until a real-life Super Villain steps out of the shadows and declares Squirrel Girl his archenemy. Can Doreen balance being a teenager and a Super Hero? Or will she go . . . NUTS?

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is one of my favorite ongoing Marvel Comics series.  A human girl, with a squirrel tail, teeth, proportional speed and strength, and the ability to reason with super-villains (she convinced Galactus to not eat the Earth without throwing a punch).  I was unbelievably excited when I heard that Shannon and Dean Hale had been tapped to write a Squirrel Girl middle-grade novel.  (I got a galley at BEA and got it signed plus I got squirrel ears - bonus! Go nuts!)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World starts a few years before the opening of the current SG comics run.  Fourteen-year-old Doreen's dad has accepted a new job and the family has moved from California to the New Jersey 'burbs.  Doreen is going to start at a new school, try and make some (human) friends, and keep her bushy squirrel tail hidden in her pants (it gives her a bodacious badonk).  That's all easier said than done.  Her neighborhood is filled with strange LARPers and roaming angry dogs, someone is trapping local squirrels in lethal traps, and this "friends" thing isn't coming along as fast as Doreen hoped (The Somebodies are the mean kids in any school anywhere).  When Doreen puts the fear of the Jersey Devil into a pack of local hoodlums, she accidentally becomes a superhero: Squirrel Girl!  Who has squirrel friends, like Tippy-Toe!  And rescues babies!  And winds up in a fight for her neighborhood with the newest super-villain menace: the Micro-Manager!

The Hales captured Squirrel Girl's voice from the comics perfectly (and the footnotes!). They've given us a superhero novel that is unbelievably funny with great heart.  The narration rotates between Doreen, Tippy-Toe (who has an amazing Jersey Squirrel dialect), and Ana Sophia, Doreen's new friend who is a computer genius and is obsessed with socks and Thor (possibly in that order).  There are several text exchange chapters between Doreen and members of the Avengers that are so funny they should be illegal.  The voices were EXACTLY RIGHT and I dare you not to hear the MCU actors' voices for Black Widow, Tony Stark, and Rocket Racoon when reading those chapters (I almost peed my pants I laughed so hard). Easter Eggs abound for Marvel fans. Go nuts!

Even though Squirrel Meets World is aimed at the middle-grade or teen crowd, the book does not condescend or talk down to its audience.  It's a bit like the original Muppets movies - there's something for everyone.  Grown-up fans of SG should enjoy this book, too!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World is out TODAY wherever books are sold.

Dear FTC: I have a signed galley.  Also, I *high-fived* Dean Hale after we talked about which issue of SG is the best, so there's that.

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