Thursday, February 10, 2011

Zita the Space Girl

Ben Hatke

Ben Hatke's Zita the Space Girl, from First Second Books, is an all-ages fantasy starring a brave girl who leaps through a portal after her friend has been abducted, unaware of the consequences of her actions or where it will lead her.  It turns out that Zita is transported across the universe to a strange world full of a variety of creatures, and it just so happens that everyone is trying to get off of the planet just as she arrives, because a meteor is about to hit that will destroy it along with whomever is left behind.  There's a mad scramble on the surface for passage off-world, but Zita is more concerned with finding her friend.  Very quickly on this odd little planet, Zita makes friends who help her on her quest, a quest that will eventually hold the fate of the entire world in its balance.  Among her newfound friends are a giant mouse who speaks through a collar around its neck that produces words on paper for her to read, a machine that was created solely to destroy, and a man with an uncanny ability with a flute.  Hatke does a fantastic job setting up this crazy world and its varied inhabitants, with plenty of great designs for the alien beings, as well as playful allies and creatures that Zita encounters.  Along with the designs, Hatke has a great cartoony style that lends itself well to this sort of story that sees a nice blend of fantasy, sci/fi, and comedy.  He also thoughtfully sets up things early in the book that play out later in interesting ways, with a story that rarely goes where expected.  Zita the Space Girl is a fun book with a crazy world that's fun to explore alongside the brave heroine of the story.  Very reminiscent of recent hits like Amulet and Ghostopolis.

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