Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen, art by Faith Erin Hicks
Review by Lauren
copy for review, but all opinions are my own
Official Summary: You wouldn’t expect Nate and Charlie to be friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But they are friends, however unlikely—until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders. At stake is funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms—but not both.
It’s only going to get worse: after both parties are stripped of their funding on grounds of abominable misbehavior, Nate enrolls the club’s robot in a battlebot competition in a desperate bid for prize money. Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not. Running away from home on Thanksgiving to illicitly enter a televised robot death match? Of course!
Review: Shen’s first book is a mix of genuine friendship, high school hierarchy, and kick-ass robots! Hicks takes this story and uses her lovely black and white drawings to make it come alive. I’ve only read one other graphic novel illustrated by Hicks, also written by her, which was Friends With Boys. I had some difficulties, I remember, in distinguishing some of the characters but I loved her work overall. This time around, in Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, everyone has their own distinguished look so it’s easy to keep track of Nate and Charlie, as well as their respective side of the social pyramid (robot geeks for Nate and cheerleaders for Charlie).
At first, the cheerleaders come off as a bit stereotypical and ridiculous. They are fearsome, rich, and always looking down on others. However, I liked that Shen showed just how much these girls (and the other characters) can grow and change throughout the novel. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is definitely a suitable graphic novel for newbies, I believe, because it’s easy to follow and is a suitable length to tell a full story with growth.
As for the main guys, Charlie was definitely not a typical jock. He was popular, but that didn’t keep him from being friends with Nate and he also had his own personal issues to deal with that didn’t include robots and cheerleader uniforms. While the parents are not completely present, it was nice to see that they were included in the storyline with Charlie throughout the novel. On the other side, you have Nate who is some great comic relief. He’s obsessed with the robot competition and will do anything to get the money, even running for class president (as the Student Council controls the money). Nate isn’t always the best friend, since he puts his own interests above Charlie’s and the two ultimately find themselves battling it out in the race for president.
Shen and Hicks make a wonderful duo, allowing a fairly normal group of high school students to come together in one amusing, realistic, and geeky quest!