Cosmic Commandos

illus. by Christopher Eliopoulos. 192p. Dial. Jul. 2017. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781101994481.
Gr 3–6—Jeremy and Justin are twins, but while Justin is cautious and adheres to the rules, Jeremy is more of a rebel and resents his brother's very existence. A toy ring in a cereal box gives Jeremy the powers of a video game character, and reasoning that he needs to do everything possible to protect the planet, he decides to stop following the rules. Justin, meanwhile, pores over the game's guide, worried about the potentially grave outcomes. Jeremy brushes him off. Eliopoulos, illustrator of the "Ordinary People Change the World" series, continues to evoke Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes here, heavily leaning on the specter of Calvin's Spaceman Spiff alter ego. However, while Spiff was Watterson's excuse to illustrate lush vistas, Eliopoulos rarely achieves dynamic visuals, frequently concentrating on small, concrete moments, which serve to humanize the narrative but also slow it down considerably, as does the video game exposition. Jeremy's self-aggrandizing and self-pitying attitude may put off some readers. There are few consequences for the characters' actions, with damage disappearing and memories fading, except in one key instance, which feels unsatisfying.
VERDICT An additional purchase for patrons who may grow up to enjoy fantastic tales of sibling rivalry such as William Sleator's Singularity or Doug TenNapel's Power Up.

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