Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cosmic Commandos by Christopher Eliopoulos

Jeremy is a nasty kid. I'm just going to get it out there. He thinks his life "stinks" because he can't play video games, has to go to school and do homework, and is always getting compared to his perfect twin brother, Justin. Justin is almost ridiculously perfect, preferring to clean his room, always making sure he does his homework and gets ready for the day at school, and desperate for Jeremy's attention no matter how nasty Jeremy is to him.

Then Jeremy finds a ring in a cereal box, makes a wish, and suddenly he has actually become a Cosmic Commando, from his favorite video game. Except he's never been able to beat the game and now the villains are coming to life too! Jeremy is sure that he can do it all on his own, if he just plays the game enough to be able to duplicate it in real life - and things would be a lot better if Justin just disappeared. But Justin keeps trying to help, no matter how mean Jeremy is, because he knows that the reading the manual - and working together - will get them through this.

Eliopoulos' style will be familiar to readers of Franklin Richards and Meltzer's Ordinary People Change the World series. Even when they're in dire straits or miserable, both boys have big heads, cute grins, and cartoon eyes. With matching hair-styles and faces, the only way to tell the twins apart is their different colored shirts (and Jeremy's perpetual scowl). The cover of the book is designed like a cereal "made with whole grain excitement" and the plot is a classic Saturday morning cartoon, translated into the real world.

It's funny with several moments of feels, cute kids, and a satisfying ending. But the characters are just so...unpleasant. Jeremy is a really nasty kid and it's hard to believe his parents never noticed how he tortures his twin brother (Or took him to therapy. That kid needs some serious therapy.) But Justin isn't very realistic either, seeming like a cartoon version of the "good kid" and his doormat behavior is almost as annoying as Jeremy's whining.

Verdict: I've got lots of fans of Winick's HILO series and of course Wimpy Kid and this is definitely a close cousin to both of those series, albeit for a younger demographic. I just really dislike siblings who are nasty to each other with no consequences.

ISBN: 9781101994481; Published 2017 by Dial; Review copy provided by publisher

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