In Review: Nnewts–Book Three: The Battle for Amphibopolis

Will pull in readers, making them laugh, scream, hope, cry, and cheer.

Nnewts–Book Three: The Battle for Amphibopolis by Doug TenNapel

Published by Graphix/Scholastic on June 27, 2017. Hardcover of 218 pages at $19.99 and softcover at $10.99. Intended for readers 8 – 12, grades 3 – 7.

The cover: The giant orange-red Lizzark head above the title is that of hero Herk, whose body has finally given in to being covered by scales, hence his unhappy demeanor. Below him, under the title and running through a bricked tunnel, are, from left to right, Pikk, who has a robotic right arm, Herk, sans scales, but now wearing a magic hat, and Zerk, who has become as woolly as a Wookiee. The three look delighted at where they’re headed, but one must read the book to find out how they have acquired their items and where they’re going. Good tease from writer/artist Doug TenNapel. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the inside cover flap, “The fate of all Nnewts hangs in the balance! In the final, epic installment of the Nnewts trilogy, Herk is falling under the influence of Blakk Mudd. He’s slowly turning into a Lizzark and abandoning his Nnewt friends and everything he has ever held dear. Herk’s siblings, Sissy and Zerk, have been corrupted by evil, and the Lizzark army is still threatening Amphibopolis with total destruction. Now the Nnewts need a true hero to step up and save the day before it’s too late!” The previous book was enjoyable, but did end on a cliffhange. With this being the final book, I’m looking forward to seeing how TenNapel gets Herk out of danger (Though what’s with the Lizzard-Herk head on the cover?) and has the heroes victorious…I hope. Overall grade: A

The characters: Herk is such a likable character and he begins the book in the worst situations. Exposed to the Blakk Mudd, which can change a Nnewt into a Lizzark, he’s becoming a creature that he’s been fighting. Once he transforms, he tells Launa he could never love her because he’s no longer a Nnewt. This makes her break down, increasing reader sympathy for her. Launa confides in her father, General Mander, that Herk still could be good, but, rather than see his daughter continually hurt, he orders the Lizzark’s death. Herk escapes to meet up with his brother Zerk and sister Sissy. Both his siblings work for the Snake Lord, who is searching for a way to assume a Body of Stars. While helping the evil Snake Lord, Herk questions if he and his family have made the right choice assisting him. This is his journey through the book: to do what’s right or do what your heart tells you is right. In opposition to the Snake Lord is Orion, who opens the novel. He plays a role in this book that changes everyone, especially Herk. All of these characters are rushing to save their world or rule it. Sides change, characters die, but there are some very funny moments, with Pikk being good for several silly moments, and Anthigar being misunderstood. Every character is fun, believable, and capable of breaking a reader’s heart. All were incredibly fun to read about. Overall grade: A+

The settings: Amphibopolis, on the streets and underground, is the book’s main setting, though there are a few scenes in space. Yes, the book goes cosmic at times, but fits the story perfectly. The city is full of astounding structures, never constructed of even lines, making the metropolis seem as though it’s been constructed organically, and it’s amazing to look at. Underground is disgusting and just as amazing to look at. The final setting is one of hope and was the best place for this story to end, even if it did start to make me tear up. Overall grade: A+

The action: Everyone is running somewhere for a good reason. Herk is trying to hide, then save people. The Nnewts are trying to avoid the giant monsters plaguing their city. The villains are rushing to aid the Snake Lord, who is racing to battle Orion. Spells are cast, physical battles are fought, and titans smite one another. This book has plenty of action and it must be noted that every action that occurs leads to the book’s conclusion — no action is fluff. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals on this book are so detailed one can be lost in them, momentarily forgetting the story. Once the story leaves a surprisingly cosmic locale, Herk is running through the streets, trying to avoid a giant. He looks delightfully frantic, the monster undeniably massive, and the settings incredible — I especially liked when he entered that home! Though briefly in this concluding book, Necky remains a fantastic character whose visage is always entertaining. Page 57 is a terrific entrance to a new location and is simply amazing. When Herk, Zerk, and Pikk get their magical items, as foreshadowed on the cover, they are joyous to watch in action. The colors on this book are also incredible, done by Katherine Garner, with Josh Kenfield as lead flatter, and additional flatting by Kip Henderson and Christine Garner. It’s always a pleasure to look at bright graphic novel work, as heroics often turn somber under dark, depressing colors these days. Even when the situation seems dire for the heroes, the colors always spark hope in the reader and that hope is rewarded. This book looks amazing. Overall grade: A+

The conclusion: The ending of this book is completely unexpected. Not until it is staring the reader in the face, does one suspect that it will end the way it does. It ends honestly and hopefully, and it got me weepy. I didn’t think a book intended for eight to twelve year-olds could do this to me, but it did. A beautiful ending. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The final chapter in the Nnewts saga will pull in readers, making them laugh, scream, hope, cry, and cheer. It’s everything one could want in a novel for children, and for adults who still remember what it was like to enter a magical world. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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