Inspired by last week’s Hunger-Games-frenzy (I loooooooved the movie and basically cried for the whole thing. What did you guys think? Obviously the books have a lot more details, but I really liked the movie version, especially the behind-the-scenes stuff), I’m going to tell you guys about some GREAT adventure series for a variety of ages/audiences.
First up, BONE. Bone is one of the best-selling series of all time (probably– that is based on anecdotal evidence and not hard statistics), which is actually a little bit crazy if you know that it started as a self-published comic back in the 90s and was self-published for most of its run. Originally it wasn’t even aimed at kids—author Jeff Smith was just trying to tell a classic story inspired by things like Pogo (art- and story-wise) and everyone I knew reading it back then was technically an adult (I was a college student, if that counts as adult). Eventually huge publisher Scholastic realized Bone was a perfect story for kids and started publishing color versions of the books—which were so successful that new Bone stories started coming out again in 2010, for the first time in over ten years.
Bone is about a weird-looking (but adorable!) little guy named Fone Bone, who, along with his two cousins, finds himself lost in an unfamiliar land, where he meets local girl Thorn and instantly gets a crush on her. His quest to find his way home and her quest to find out about her past lead to all sorts of crazy adventures (and some not so crazy). I’d say this series is fine for all ages—some of the later volumes are a little bit scary, but it’s still a very popular series with lots of kids age 5 and up. I highly encourage people who are technically adults to read it too.
And if you’re interested in the story of how Bone became a phenomenon, there’s a documentary about this very subject.
Another great adventure series that’s aimed a little bit older is manga master’s Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto. Based on a classic Astro Boy story, but much more complicated and even philosophical, this story revolves around something mysterious trying to destroy the world’s seven most advanced robots—one of whom is the detective assigned to investigate the case. And because they’re so advanced, they’re barely distinguishable from humans, and Urusawa raises some really interesting points involving humanity—and family. I will say that I cried at the end of at least four of the volumes (there are eight altogether)—which isn’t to say it’s an overly sad work, just an affecting one (and I’m kind of a crier anyway). I’d recommend this to, say, 11 and up (again, this is one I’d also highly recommend to adults).
Another great series by Urasawa that is worth checking out is 20th Century Boys, an absolutely great and insane series involving a cult leader trying to destroy and/or take over the world, a group of people who realize he’s using a story they came up with as kids, and lots of crazy surprises. There’s no way to get any deeper into trying to describe the plot without giving too much away, but it has some really amazing characters (including two women who could have been in either of my earlier columns about great women characters), incredible cliffhangers, and a TON of action (killer robots! brainwashing video games!).
This one is probably best for ages 16 and up, mainly b/c the story is complex—certainly the sporadic violence isn’t too much for a younger reader to handle. It’s much more psychological and political in its action scenes than full of violence. This series currently has 19 volumes but should be wrapping up soon. That may sound scary, but believe me, it’s worth the time investment.