Thursday, March 12, 2009

Emiko Superstar (Book Review)

I brought the graphic novel Emiko Superstar to the hair salon with me for some light reading during my boys' haircuts. But of course I also had to chat with my friend as she cut Evan's hair--and by the time I'd finished a sentence, the book was closer to Ben's lap than mine, long past the page four I'd looked up from. Oh, well. It was almost time for my haircut anyway. I'd get back to it during lunch, maybe.

But when I brought my lunch to the table, Evan was in my seat, reading--you guessed it--Emiko Superstart. Drat.

It's now the next morning, I've finished it and am ready to write my review--except that Evan's taken it over again, so I can't refer to the book while I write.

This is the second Tamaki book I've read, the first being Skim, which I liked but didn't love. Emiko and Skim both portray teen girls trying to figure out who they are. What makes Emiko shine brighter, in my opinion, is its focus. Skim brushed the surface of so many subplots (Wicca, suicide, a friendship cooling off, a teacher crush) and never let the reader dive in to any of them. In Emiko, all the threads tie together into a neat little slice-of-life bundle: girl goes from wallflower to performance artist--what's not to love?

And the characters--even the minor ones--are fully rounded out, partly thanks to Steve Rolston's artwork. Evan, for his part, has determined a kindred spirit in Rolston, because of the incredible detail in his vehicle illustrations. "What else has this guy done?" he wants to know. We'll be checking into these for age-eight suitability.

The soundtrack: I love it when authors make it easy on me: "My first police raid. Set to Kaiser Chief's I Predict a Riot. Although I could swear I also heard some Ramones in the background." Click on the playlist in my sidebar (From Facebook, click here) to hear it.


  1. sounds like fun :-) I'm going to have to look out for this one :-) it's fun that there's a little soundtrack included too!

  2. This sounds like a great book. What really caught me about your review is that it's about a teen girl, but that Evan connected with it and wanted to go back to it again. I love when books have something that can grab every audience.

  3. Marie, I can't believe it--I actually read a graphic novel you haven't discovered first? Now I know I've come up in the world!

    ReadingTub, That's a good point. Evan also pointed out, halfway through it, that the illustrations are black and white (he normally turns up his nose when they're not color). He was reading it in bed until after 11 last night! Definitely a hit.

  4. I've been meaning to pick this up!

  5. I've read both Skim and Emiko Superstar and still need to review them. I feel about the same as you do about the two.

  6. I rarely read graphic novels but I did read Emiko Superstar and I thought that the main character was so cute. I liked it.