Strong Female Protagonist

illus. by Molly Ostertag. 220p. Top Shelf. 2014. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9780692246184.
Gr 10 Up—Alison Green, aka Mega Girl, lives in a dark world fraught with difficult relationships. She is a biodynamic, who, along with other young people who possess special capabilities, rejects her role as a superhero and attempts to revert to the life of a "normal" college freshman. However, because she retains her extraordinary abilities, she encounters situations that test her resolve to no longer use her powers. Good versus evil, the possibility of world change, and the worth of an individual life are among the deep and complex concepts explored in this volume. Ostertag's emotion-filled images and expressive faces draw readers into the world created with realistic black-and-white line drawings and an occasional full-page color panel. A narrator speaks directly to readers via footnotes at the bottom of each page. While sometimes interesting and necessary to understand Alison's backstory, at times these comments become annoying and disrupt the flow of the story. Due to the ongoing nature of the webcomic in which Mega Girl first appeared (, some of the book's story line and characters are not fully realized. Aspects of the book, such as the heavy infusion of profanity, make this title more appropriate for older teens. An exploration of similar issues can be found in Faith Erin Hicks's The Adventures of Superhero Girl (Dark Horse, 2013), in which a female protagonist has to negotiate supernatural and mundane worlds.
VERDICT This graphic novel for mature young adults might create new fans for the webcomic, but will leave most readers unsatisfied.

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