The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

I downloaded this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Here is the Goodreads synopsis:

A 320-page Middle Grade Novel telling an original "tail" of Marvel's cute, quirky, and downright furry Super Heroine--Squirrel Girl!

Penguin Audio reveals a bit more detail:

Who Runs the World? Squirrels!

Fourteen-year-old Doreen Green moved from sunny California to the suburbs of New Jersey. She must start at a new school, make new friends, and continue to hide her fluffy tail. Yep, Doreen has the powers of . . . a squirrel!

After failing at several attempts to find her new BFF, Doreen feels lonely and trapped, like a caged animal. Then one day Doreen uses her extraordinary powers to stop a group of troublemakers from causing mischief in the neighborhood, and her whole life changes. Everyone at school is talking about it! Doreen contemplates becoming a full-fledged Super Hero. And thus, Squirrel Girl is born!

She saves cats from trees, keeps the sidewalks clean, and prevents vandalism. All is well until a real-life Super Villain steps out of the shadows and declares Squirrel Girl his archenemy. Can Doreen balance being a teenager and a Super Hero? Or will she go . . . NUTS?

What worked for me?
There are lots of positive things about this book. It's got a diverse cast of characters to start. (Although, can you get much more diverse than a girl with a squirrel tale?) I like that it addresses, but doesn't dwell on the inanities of peer relationships in middle school. The friendship between Doreen and Ana Sofia is delightful. I enjoyed reading the chapters narrated by Tippy Toes, Doreen's squirrel friend. MM, the supervillain, is a complex character who I ended up feeling sorry for. Doreen's parents are a bit flakey, but it's kind of an over the top book anyway. I can see that fans of Ryan North's graphic Squirrel Girl series, who are reluctant readers of more text based books, could be convinced to read this.

Problems I had:
Let me begin by admitting that I am not the target audience for this book. If I were still working in the library, I would give this to one of my readers and ask what they think. Part of the problem is that I'm not a reader of marvel and other superhero comics so I'm sure I missed a lot of connections and injokes. There is a squirrely freneticness to the writing that aggravated me, and made it impossible for me to suspend belief and accept the authors' world. While the interactions with the reader were sometimes funny, they interrupted my already tenuous connection to the narrative. It wasn't until I was actually half way into the book that I actually got 'into it.' I might have abandoned it completely except someone I trust told me she was enjoying it. I admit that I did actually come to care about these characters and what happened to them.

I really expected and wanted to love this book. After all, I've loved everything else Shannon Hale and Dean Hale have come up with. Maybe I need to have a go at Ryan North's Squirrel Girl comics to see if it all makes more sense to me.

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