Stick Boy and the Rise of the Robots
This illustrated story ticks a lot of familiar boxes for fiction for young readers. Futuristic dystopia, check. The discovery of underground tunnels and rooms, check. Villain who is up to no good, check. Circle of friends who uncover the truth, check. But there is one anomaly. As the title suggests the central protagonist is a stick drawing in a world of regular people. Stick Boy goes to school in Little Town, and with his Mystery Mates, they solve mysteries together. This is the second instalment of his adventures, by writer and illustrator Paul Coomey.
The aforementioned villain is the ‘suspiciously happy’ Baron Ben, who’s mission appears to be to transform Little Town into a technological utopia. With a new ‘HeadBox’ craze and an influx of shoppers into the town, his plan appears to be working. That is until Stick Boy discovers that the baron is secretly manufacturing an army of robots for an unknown purpose…
The strong visual element to the book extends to the narrative at times assuming a comic book format, and, although the illustration style is overall pretty simple, some of the spreads are quite imaginative and engaging. The plot is slow moving, but eventually builds to an exciting climax. The critique of corporate consumerism is familiar, though the reason for the underground library (in which a worrying amount of biscuits and hot chocolate are consumed by Stick and his pals) is not explained. Perhaps all will be revealed in the next exciting instalment? Tune in and find out!