Awake Escape From Gremon By Beneville, Hess, Lang

Awake has many of the superior storytelling aspects that I greatly enjoyed in Avatar: The Last Airbender series: interesting worldbuilding, excellent and distinct illustrations, and a charming set of characters. While it doesn’t reach the highs and lows of nuanced storytelling like Avatar did (the bad guys are kind of cliche, to be honest, here), an interesting set of protagonists make up for that lack. I hadn’t read volume 1 but had no problem picking up the story from this volume 2.

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Story: Picar and his sister have healed the planet but frustrated ruler Gurk in the process – with prosperity he loses his hold over the populace. He hatches a plan to catch Picar, using Picar’s friend as bait. But Picar has a strong set of friends who will aid him in his mission to save his friend and stop the Gurk menace.

The artwork was very well done – I truly wish I could see this animated as well since it does have a timeless storyline. The cuteness factor of the anthropomorphic animals make this suitable for all ages – from youngest to adult (though it might be a bit simplistic for the adult palette). In the very least, an adult can enjoy reading to toddlers and then letting older kids have their own go with the story.

There are messages here but they are minor and don’t slap you in the face; action/adventure is the heart of the story. Lead character Picar is almost an antihero and his younger sister is quite feisty. Side characters who aid them are fun and the story is written to be appealing to both girls and boys. This volume 2 is about having faith in yourself and your friends.

As a nitpick, I would have liked more nuanced villains. But all the same, the crisp and clean artwork and fun storyline make for a great adventure yarn. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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