November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In the spirit of the month, instead of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, I’m going to write a short review every day, up to a maximum of 300 words. Think of it is NaNoReMo (National Novel Review Month). This month I’ll do short reviews of books, varieties of tea, and even individual short stories as the mood strikes. So read on!
Title: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe
Author: Ryan North
Illustrator: Erica Henderson
Rating: 4 out of 5
Squirrel Girl is no stranger to this blog. It’s a witty series! It’s funny! It’s got heart! It’s meta! It scratches a lot of my itches.
What I wasn’t expecting, in this world where we suddenly find ourselves contending with the reality of Trump having won the election, is that The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe is a surprisingly timely and relevant story about the perils of autocracy and the value of community and togetherness.
Quick summary: After inadvertently coming into contact with some alien technology that Iron Man has jury-rigged together, Doreen Green, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, now has a clone, Allene. Things are hunky-dory at first, but go south quickly when Allene feels that the only way to really keep the world safe is by getting rid of the true source of its problems — other people — and instituting a squirrel-ocracy in its place.
I mean, “She alone can fix it”, right?
Thus Allene concocts a surprisingly successful plan to defeat every single Marvel superhero and villain, progressively working her way up the ladder by treating it like an RPG with loot drops and boss fights. It’s only when Doreen and her mascot, Tippy-Toe, sacrifice themselves for the greater good that Allene has a change of heart.
I’ve been heartsick for the past few days. Scared, overwhelmed, tired. Reviewing books and tea feels like fiddling while Rome burns. So imagine my surprise when I read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe and genuinely laughed and forgot our political situation for a few minutes — up until I saw its parallels to the current state of world politics and got unhappy and uncomfortable all over again.
It’s really interesting having a see-sawing reaction like that. So while I liked the book, I’m still guarded about it.