It's not news to anyone who's hung around my blog/vlog for any length of time that I love the work of Ben Hatke. (Also not news to anyone who read th It's not news to anyone who's hung around my blog/vlog for any length of time that I love the work of Ben Hatke. (Also not news to anyone who read that intro, so. . .) I've talked about this many, many times, and pushed his books on many, many people, both online and IRL. So of course, I'm always looking forward to whatever's coming up next, confident in the belief that whatever it is is sure to brighten my shelves. And Little Robot is no exception to that rule.
Little Robot follows in the tradition of plucky young female protagonists and their oddball companions, set by Julia's House for Lost Creatures and the Zita the Spacegirl series. Unlike Hatke's previous books, Little Robot is nearly wordless (and of the words that make it to the page, most of them are in robot, so...), though its no less full of story as a result.
If there's anything Hatke excels at, it's injecting as much personality as possible into every frame, every character, every inanimate object -- and yes, I mean that literally. More than once, this man has made me have feels about rocks, literal rocks with eyeballs, and monsters, and what may have been a giant coil of hair or wire or something, I don't even know, but it, too. And yes, robots.
Hatke is an excellent anthropomorphosizererer, skillfully drawing the reader into caring about even the smallest and most unimposing of creatures/creations, with an immediacy that is impressive. You can't help but fall for our little unnamed adventurer and her newfound robot companion, and once you've decided to care about them, well, you may as well care about the pile of broken machinery in the junkyard, too, right? And that perky little fixer robot-bug-thingy, he's quite adorable now, isn't he? Hatke draws you into their magical little world so seemlessly that it seems obvious that you'd love these things. Of course you want to join our lonely little adventurer girl, let her lead you on explorations and discoveries, and bring smiles to each others faces.
Lest you think Hatke's books are just cute, but inconsequential, they most certainly are not. The robots and their nameless human girl may draw you in with their sweetness, but there's depth there, too. There's a loneliness and sense of longing to the story that grounds it and makes it stick with you. I think at the core of all of Hatke's stories, there's a thread of "finding your people," even if those "people" aren't people. They're all about finding your place, your companion(s), your way in the world. Hatke's characters stumble upon each other by chance and it's as if a missing piece has been found; they fit together perfectly. It's charming and sweet and funny and real, and I think you can see why I end up singing his praises so often... And this time around, I was getting double-feels because it reminded me of another nearly-wordless, unlikely robot companion story, Robot Dreams, that is just one of the bestweirdestawesomest things I've ever read. So this is in excellent company.
And of course, of course, the art is gorgeous. So what's not to like?
This has a really fun, quirky-cute tone, and it has the type of humor that I think will translate to those not so well-versed in geekery. Super fun foThis has a really fun, quirky-cute tone, and it has the type of humor that I think will translate to those not so well-versed in geekery. Super fun for coffee tables, may work for the nerdy lovelorn (I didn't, you know, test my pre- and post-book Nerd Moves on anyone, so I can't attest to that...), and good for flipping through casually or breezing through in a sitting or two. All-around adorbs. =)...more
Just under 4. There were some things that bothered me (pet peevishly), but for the most part, good fun.
I wasn't sure what I'd be getting with this oneJust under 4. There were some things that bothered me (pet peevishly), but for the most part, good fun.
I wasn't sure what I'd be getting with this one. It has a super cute cover (one of my faves in my big ole' Janeite stack), but I am always a little apprehensive when it comes to anything that smacks of romance. I find it even more dubious when a Janeite novel opens with a mangling of Austen's famous "truth universally acknowledged" line. But the fact of the matter is, as clichéd as this could be, it was also great fun, and enjoyably readable. I kid you not when I say I knew exactly what was going to happen by page 4 (I was actually on page 4 when I said it aloud), but it was still fun getting there.
It reminded me very strongly of Austenland (in plot and in tone), and though this made it that much more predicatble, it was welcome, as Austenland is one of my favorite Janeite books. I still like Austenland more, but Weekend had the same sort of self-indulgent funness to it. It was cute and bubbly and there were numerous times when I found myself not just casually smiling, but grinning. The whole thing sort of reads as a nod to Janeites, with lots of in-jokes and other retellings and authors mentioned. It's a fangirl's homage to fangirliness.
As fun as it was, there were some things that held me back in my enthusiasm a bit. Emotions ran a little too high and were a little too easy for me, if that makes sense. I know part of the whole point of the story is the magic of this Jane weekend, and how it weaves its spell, but the main characters didn't seem very realistic, especially the men, and when people start tossing around the word love after a day, I can't help but roll my eyes and think they are doomed. And yes, I get that these uber-thoughtful, expressive, gorgeous men fulfill the stereotype and the wish of the ultimate Austen hero made flesh, but I would have liked a little more groundwork and struggle to get declarations of undying whatever. Part of what builds butterflies in your stomach when you read is that things take time and are difficult. Anticipation is built, and there are near misses where you think they are never going to get together and you just can't wait. I would have liked a little more waiting (which was impossible from the start, since the bulk of the book takes place over 3 days).
From the Jane-ish standpoint, it was a good take on the common tropes. I've already mentioned the men being the embodiment of the swoon-worthy Austen hero (and they certainly did their best), but the two main characters, Katherine and Robyn, were good Jane-inspired female leads. They each were reminiscent of several Austen heroines, without ever being a straight copy of any. It was more a nod to Austen, in a modern woman and setting, and I enjoyed that. Katherine at times was a little too petulant for my tastes - she is a grown woman; I don't ever want to read the word 'pout' applied to an adult character I'm supposed to like. That being said, I still did like her and root for her. Robyn had my heart from the beginning, surprisingly (I thought it was going to be all about Katherine for me). And I loved seeing how their lives came together in the end and all of the storylines were resolved - even if I did see them coming. They were infused with enough believable emotion that I fully enjoyed it and never wanted to set the book aside. It was like watching a chick flick - you may know exactly what is going to happen, but that doesn't stop you from wanting to watch it (again and again and again...)...more