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Review: Networked: Carabella on the Run

Carabella, a blue-skinned alien hiding on Earth, is shocked when her new boyfriend’s shoe design sets off a chain-reaction of privacy invasions–leading to a real invasion from people from her world!

Networked: Carabella on the Run
Author: Gerard Jones; Art: Mark Badger
High School; Ages 14+
NBM/PrivacyActivism, September 2010, ISBN 978-1-56163-586-3
128 pages, $12.99

Comics publisher NBM has paired with PrivacyActivism, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about personal privacy, to craft a graphic novel about the dangers of giving up privacy. Though they have all the best interests in mind and though they try hard to make a graphic novel that has a good story, in the end the overwhelming whiff of “message” sinks the tale. Part of the problem is that they dive into Carabella’s story somewhat in the middle. PrivacyActivism has previously released two online games starring Carabella–Carabella: the Quest for Tunes and Carabella Goes to College–and Networked picks up her story after the events in the games. This means that readers are confused at first about who Carabella and her friends are. A simple character introduction in the front of the book could have solved that problem.

The information about personal privacy that is the heart of the book is solid and the creators try to present it in a fun manner. Carabella’s adventures are exciting and fast-paced, though character development is somewhat sacrificed. The development of some of the relationships is rushed through too quickly and it is hard to believe that Carabella would fall for the person she begins dating. There are several funny parts, though, especially a recurring Star Wars/Princess Leia joke. Badger’s loose, colorful art takes a little getting used to for readers who may be accustomed to reading graphic novels with a smoother art style. But he is consistent and readers’ eyes will soon adjust and they will come to appreciate his unique style.

Overall, though, there is still too much of an “afterschool special” feel about Jones and Badger’s creation. Teens who turn to graphic novels for fun reading might not appreciate being preached at. But for classes that are exploring the topic of privacy, Carabella and her college-age buddies can offer students a valuable lesson. A Teachers’ Guide is offered at PrivacyActivism to assist.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © NBM/PrivacyActivism.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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