Machine Boy, our protagonist, falls from the sky and accidentally lands in the domed city Mega 416. He destroys everything in his path, including an elderly couple’s large tomato garden that was bursting with beautiful, ready to pick fresh tomatoes before the elderly man is able to alter Machine Boy’s programming. Unfortunately the extreme stress from the event causes the man to pass away from a sudden cardiac arrest. Machine Boy, despite being filled with mechanical parts, now seems to possess a bit of heart. We see tears streaming down his face as he watches the Grandfather breathe his last breath. The newly widowed Grandma and Machine Boy, with bumps along the way, form a partnership.
Grandma teaches him how to do all kinds of things that she can no longer physically do. He learns karate, battles beasts in the sewers beneath his school, rescues cats from trees, and runs errands for Grandma. Together they even rebuild the greenhouse into a spectacular and enviable structure filled with delicious and plump looking red tomatoes that are perfect for making fresh spaghetti sauce.
This book reads and looks like a cross between manga and a graphic novel. There are a lot of action and fight scenes with dramatic word bubbles popping out off the pages. It’s very light on text with simple vocabulary. The characters display a lot of manga style facial expressions with big tears and big emotions bursting from their faces. There’s a mix of fantasy in this sci-fi adventure with animal-like characters and images of mythical creatures like unicorns tossed around.
This adventure didn’t pack the punch that I anticipated from the wonderful blurb we see across the front cover from the outstanding author, Faith Erin Hicks, who described the book as, “Astro Boy meets The Iron Giant, a sweet, funny, action-packed story for every sci-fi loving young reader!” There isn’t a lot of text for children to read to continue improving their grasp of the English language, so it wouldn’t be an excellent choice for educational purposes. Additionally, I found the book didn’t grab my attention and hold it throughout the story. Overall, this book isn’t bad by any means, but I wouldn’t say that I highly recommend adding this to your collection. There are so many other exciting and beautifully done action-packed graphic novels out there to choose from that could also help youngsters with their reading comprehension.
Everyday Hero Machine Boy
By Irma Kniivila
Art by Tri Vuong
Image Skybound, 2022
Publisher Age Rating: 9-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Tween (10-13)
Creator Representation: Canadian