Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Agatha H and the Airship City" by Phil & Kaja Foglio

I was first introduced to these characters through the award-winning Girl Genius online comic. When I saw their book for the first time, I needed to read it. 

Summary: This book follows the first part of the online comic, in which Agatha begins as an ordinary lab assistant at the university of Professor Beetle. The professor is a Spark, a title which denotes individuals who have an especially sharp minds. Sparks can take a pile of discarded parts and build a fully functional vehicle in a day, they can rewire the brains of animals to give them human intelligence, and they can do it in a steampunk universe where computers and circuits have never been invented. Most sparks are very dangerous and mentally unstable. They bring terror and ruin to the people of Europe with their armies of combat squids and war klanks constantly fighting. Professor Beetle is peaceful by comparison and has found himself working for Baron Wulfenbach, the most powerful spark who presides over the continent with a fleet of airships.

In this book Agatha's life is totally turned upside-down and she meets a cast of characters pulled from across the continent and across species. She can no longer stay in the home she has always known, and must make do with strangers in the airship city of Castle Wulfenbach, where she finds herself again as a lab assistant. But this time things have gotten a lot more complicated. After reading the comics, this book feels like it is entirely exposition for the adventures that follow, but it is compelling in its own right.

What I Liked: As the comic updates three pages a week, it can be slow going to follow along. It was a fun look-back to recall how the stories began. The Foglio's inject everything with a joke, keeping the story light-hearted even when it's serious. Also, the steampunk theme is exciting and interesting, with monsters, talking animals, robots and zepplins!

What I Didn't Like: I am biased to like this book, not sure what to put here.

Rating: Must read.

Also Read by this Author: Girl Genius online comic.

Reviewed by: Nick

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