Thursday, July 27, 2017

REVIEW: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World (audiobook) by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, narrated by Abigail Revasch and Tara Sands

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World is a Middle Grade (probably?) superhero book. I picked it up on Audible with one of my remaining credits when I decided to end up subscription.

Review:

I’m going to start this off by saying that I’ve never read any of the Squirrel Girl comics. I wouldn’t even know she existed if it weren’t for people’s reviews on Booklikes. I bought this because the excerpt I listened to sounded good and because I vaguely remembered Squirrel Girl seeming like a fun character when I read those comics reviews.

I should also mention that I took a lengthy break in the middle of listening to this audiobook - not because it was bad, but because I got into one of my “I don’t want to listen to audiobooks” moods. I think I slid back into it and remembered things pretty well, but if I get some details wrong that's probably why.

In this book, Doreen Green is 14 years old and has just moved from California to New Jersey. Going to a new school and making new friends isn’t easy, but Doreen happens to have the most powerful positive attitude on the planet. And also the powers of a squirrel, complete with the tail and teeth. All her life, Doreen’s parents have told her that she has to hide her tail and abilities - after all, they’re so awesome that everyone around her would instantly be jealous and sad that they weren’t like her. But Doreen can’t help herself and accidentally reveals what she can do while dealing with a local group of troublemakers.

Thankfully Doreen’s identity is safe. It seems that her tail has magical attention-diverting powers. While it’s out, she goes by the name she has always secretly called herself: Squirrel Girl. Unfortunately, even though Squirrel Girl isn’t technically a superhero (you can’t just call yourself a superhero, right?), it isn’t long before she finds herself dealing with what appears to be an actual supervillain.

This had two narrators: Abigail Revasch for the bits from Doreen’s POV and Tara Sands for the bits from Tippy Toe the squirrel’s POV. They were both good, but Abigail Revasch was the one who absolutely made this book shine for me. She somehow managed to be a perfect fit for both relentlessly positive Doreen and Doreen’s much more cynical friend Ana Sofia. She also did an amazing job on the squirrel talk.

For the most part, this was the literary equivalent of cotton candy: light, fluffy, and sweet. Doreen put a huge smile on my face, and I loved it anytime things went well for her. It was hard to imagine anything truly bad happening in a world where she existed, and the supervillain who had chosen her to be his archnemesis seemed particularly ridiculous, with his forced evil laughter and zucchini-based decoy. There were lots of funny lines and scenes. Probably my favorites were Doreen’s efforts at texting superheroes for help. She accidentally insulted Tony Stark multiple times (his ego could totally survive it, so I didn’t feel bad for laughing), and Winter Soldier was hilariously intense (I’m not familiar with him, although I’ve at least heard a little about the movie). The revelations about Rocket’s massive pranks were also good, and the bit with Thor was incredibly cute and sweet, even if I had a little trouble believing it.

Surprisingly, this book had some serious moments later on. The supervillain left me feeling conflicted. On the one hand, his history was pretty sad, but on the other hand he almost managed to kill a lot of squirrels and people (including a baby). Probably the most painful part of the book, though, was when Squirrel Girl was publicly ridiculed. Even Doreen’s positive attitude couldn’t withstand that.

All in all, this was a really enjoyable audiobook. There were times when I could definitely tell that I wasn’t the target audience (too old - I’m pretty sure this was aimed at Middle Grade readers), and the baby love got to be a bit much occasionally (Doreen and her squirrel friends adored babies), but I had a lot of fun anyway.

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