The Silver Six
By AJ Lieberman and Darren Rawlings
graphix, Scholastic, 2013
The Silver Six is a science fiction graphic novel for children, targeted approximately at ages 7-12.
Phoebe Hemingway is an illegal orphan. An orphan because her parents died in a freak shuttle accident, and illegal because she has been living alone in her family's apartment, and with humanity bursting at the seams, there simply isn't room for anyone to have their own apartment. The alternative, however, is going to live in a work camp thinly disguised as a school, the cash-strapped government's solution to paying for orphan care. She is able to maintain the illusion that her parents are still alive through cunning trickery supported by her impressive talent for electronics and robotics.
This changes abruptly when an evil multi-billionaire (yes, he killed her parents) finally tracks the shuttle's last transmission back to her house, and sends a hitman out to clean up the last traces if his company's involvement in the murder. However, due to a slip-up on the hitman's part, Phoebe is "saved" by Child Welfare Services. At the orphanage, she meets five other orphans who happen to have genius parents that also were killed in a freak shuttle accident -- and who may have clues to why their parents were killed.
I am not a fan of graphic novels, and this is not really targeted towards my age range, but even taking these factors into account The Silver Six isn't anything too special. The story and the characters are hackneyed, the plot is predictable, the science is not science but rather magic with spaceships, and most of the ideas and images are unoriginal. Which does not set it apart from most of the media we feed to out children.
There are some positive aspects to the book. The art is a bit better than I would have expected from a standard children's graphic novel (and is the main reason I picked it up). Both the characters and the settings are well drawn and add depth to the story, while remaining cartoon-ish and child-friendly. While the plot reads like a Saturday morning cartoon, the illustrations are more satisfying than feature length Disney films.
It is also apparent that at least some of the visual and dialogue allusions are intentional, and there are certainly others that I do not get. While these allusions fall short of being particularly amusing or cunning, it is always fun to recognize a previous work in a new adventure. As a children's book, there is also some value in introducing or reviewing familiar tropes in a new and well-drawn setting.
I would recommend this book specifically to children, and solely on the basis of appearances. If you open the book, like the look, and are in the mood for a SF adventure, this is an easy and fast moving-read that gives a lot of visual stimulation. If you do not like the style of illustration (or cheesy SF), give it a pass.
Accelerated Reader Level: 2.6