REVIEW: Nnewts Book One: Escape from the Lizzarks
Nnewts Book One: Escape from the Lizzarks
By Doug TenNapel
186 pages, Scholastic Graphix, $19.99 (hc)/$10.99 (pb)
There is no doubt Doug TenNapel is a highly imaginative and creative storyteller. I look forward to the day when he works with an editor to bring out the very best in his worldbuilding and stories. After a series of one-off stories, including Cardboard, Tommysaurus Rex, Ghostopolis, and Bad Island, he embarks on a series set in a new reality.
In Nnewts, he pits amphibians versus lizards in a realm that is far from Earth and focuses on Herk, a young Nnewt who yearns for being fully amphibious but his weak legs, a product from birth, prohibit that. Still, when disaster strikes Nnewtown, he is the sole person to make it out and embarks on the Hero’s Journey to find help.
At one juncture, he encounters the Lizard God and a few things are revealed including the god stole Nnewt’s proper legs to hamper him since he is the, gasp, “chosen one”. Nnewt manages to steal his true legs, attach them as if they were clip-ons and continues on his way, with one angry god in pursuit.
There’s a lot of charm to TenNapel’s designs and the color work from Katherine Garner, enhances the story’s mood and atmosphere. Once more, there remain storytelling gaffes that spoil the fun and adventure. Early on, two characters debate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches versus ham and cheese sandwiches. In another reality, neither would exist and feel thoroughly out of place. Other times, problems arise and are resolved a little too quickly for proper suspense.
When Nnewt finds out he’s the “one” there’s no pause for the impact of those words or that the Lizard God stole his legs years early. The emotional payoff is thoroughly missing throughout the story. At one point he meets the King of None who explains how they will stay in touch then the method is never used, even when it could have helped out plucky little hero.
The first volume draws to a close with the revelation that there may be one “other”, a brother he never knew. In fact, the story ends with a cliffhanger so it’s nearly 200 pages of setup and no delivery. There’s no satisfaction to reading what is essentially chapter one which is a shame because there is a lot of promise to this world.