Charlie is the quintessential well-liked jock. Everyone knows him and generally likes him, but this laidback guy only seems to get really excited about basketball and avoiding his mother’s phone calls. Charlie’s world gets pulled in several directions when the principal announces that the student council will decide which teams will get funded out of a limited budget.
Nate, Charlie’s neighbor and the president of the robotics team, wants the money to fund a club trip to a national robot tournament, so he decides to run for student council president. The cheerleader mafia, led by Charlie’s ex-girlfriend, wants the money to buy new uniforms and nominates Charlie for student council president. Charlie gets caught in the middle of an all-out war between the geeks and the “popular” crowd with expanding consequences.
The story is a caricature of high school with selective cliques and over-excitable geeks. However, it is presented in a way that draws attention and humor to ever more ridiculous situations. The cheerleaders are straight out of The Sopranos, controlling their domain with pom-pom clad fists. Nate, lead nerd on the robotics team, is a megalomaniac on a mission. Charlie is the only element of normalcy, being the sympathetic character and audience stand-in, who draws things back to reality.
The shenanigans throughout the book appeal to the drama-loving teen in all of us, especially the lack of control many teens feel. Not only does Charlie have difficulty relating to or conversing with his parents, but he keeps getting caught in the middle of the commotion at school. I enjoyed the character development and on-going friendship between Nate and Charlie throughout the story. It provides comic relief as well as some relatable misunderstandings.
Faith Erin Hicks’ art follows the pattern of her other works with great facial expressions and non-verbal cues. She excellently conveys emotion, even with simple headshots. Some of the best panels have no dialogue or exposition, relying on Hicks’ action sequences to pull the reader along. You could practically see her glee in zooming robot sequences, and a couple different characters spoke volumes with just the twinkle in their eyes.
One of my favorites for the year, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is a delightfully humorous book with the perfect amount of teen angst. There are some swear words and a middle finger, but the language emulates realistic teen speak. While the story does contain underage alcohol consumption, it is brief and definitely portrays that behavior in a negative light. This is a great read — light and fun with fighting robots.
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
by Prudence Shen
Art by Faith Erin Hicks
First Second, 2013