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Bad Island by Doug TenNapel
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** spoiler alert ** Teenage Reese is not looking forward to his family’s vacation – they’re going to have an adventure on his parents’ boat and he would rather stay at home. But the vacation quickly goes from bad to worse when they’re caught in a freak storm and become stranded on a mysterious island. When they start exploring, they quickly realize that it’s full of strange flora and fauna – like nothing they’ve ever seen before – and most of it is hostile. By working together, the family is able to survive and unravel the secrets of the island’s origins and strange life forms. And Reese and his dad have a chance to work on their relationship, which has been suffering for some time now. Honesty, trust, and reliance on one another bring them all closer together as a family. Their struggle is paralleled in the “island’s” story – it/he is really from another world where his actions (disobeying his father) have caused the pain and enslavement of another race his people had sworn to protect. He’s desperate to get home to his family and set things right, but is trapped on Earth – betrayed and powerless.

Excellent story-telling and vivid imagery make this an exciting read. Even the dead snake humor grows on you. I liked how the family rolled with the punches – they didn’t despair (or completely freak out) despite the situations in which they found themselves. Capable characters with problem-solving skills are always a plus. Doug TenNapel’s imagination makes for some great (and weird!) stand-alone works (I also enjoyed Ghostopolis).
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