Graphic Novel Review: Junior Braves of the Apocalypse V 1

May Contain Spoilers

I am a big fan of zombie stories, so when I saw Junior Braves of the Apocalypse, I immediately wanted to read it. Unfortunately, I originally had a digital review copy from Netgalley, but I had trouble downloading it, then real life happened, and the file expired. So I turned to my favorite reading resource: my local library.

There is one copy in the library network, and it took about a week to arrive at my library, and I was more than ready to dig into the book when it arrived. I had mixed success with JBotA, but overall, found it a fun read.

A diverse group of Junior Braves, a Boy Scout-like youth organization, heads off for a week long camping trip. Under the supervision of Padre and his assistant, Buddy, the boys find themselves roughing it far more than they had anticipated. Padre decided to head off for uncharted territory, instead of the wussy Camp Bobcat. While primitive camping is so not for me, the boys, after their initial reluctance, all seemed to enjoy learning how to start fires, trap small prey, and other wilderness survival skills. Good thing, because they are going to need everything they learned.

When they return home, they quickly notice that everything is amiss. Cars are abandoned on the roads, nobody is in sight, and gross deformed monsters are teaming in the streets. Oh, dear. Could this be a zombie apocalypse.  Why, yes, YES it is!

Most zombie survival stories follow along the same path. Survivors wonder what is happening, what happened to their family, who can they trust. This story wasn’t an exception. Several times as the Buddy and the boys stumble around their small town, they are threatened by not just the zombies, but by other survivors as well. A small group of teachers, having secured the school, have gone completely bonkers. Bewildered, the boys barely escape unscathed. Then they decide to trust a group of former security personnel – big mistake! In a world gone mad, the only things crazier than the mindless zombies are the people who managed to survive the ensuing plague.

I found the pacing a little off, with lulls that suddenly escalated into frantic (sometimes too much so) action, as the boys escape from yet another disastrous situation. I think my biggest quibble is how blandly the characters are portrayed. I didn’t feel that I ever got to know any of the boys, and the villains were just tropes with no personality who behaved very badly. Hopefully the boys’ personalities will be a little more fleshed out in future volumes.

The art is presented in black and white with shades of green, and I thought it was very visually interesting. The shading gave every page a sinister vibe, and I was never sure when a monster, human or zombie, would be popping up in a panel. The illustrations are certainly not elegant or detailed, but they fit the story well.

Grade: 3.75 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

The young Junior Braves of Tribe 65 had typical suburban lives filled with video games, smartphones, and doting parents. Returning from a week-long camping trip full of character building and life experiences, they expected to fall back into their comfortable routines. But the home they knew is no longer what it was.
With the onset of a mutant apocalypse, the world has become a destroyed wasteland. Their friends and neighbors in their sleepy Pacific Northwest community have been transformed into hideous, bloodthirsty zombies! The survivors who are left, from former teachers to security guards, have been driven mad or have fallen prey to the worst of humanity’s selfish impulses.
Worst of all, there is no sign of what happened to their parents!
These plucky kids must use all their scouting talents, combined smarts, and teamwork to search for their families, protect each other, and survive the end of the world!
Junior Braves of the Apocalypse is a new young adult series of grim survival, zombies, and other horrors no merit badge can prepare you for!