I am super happy that I picked up this series. Ben Hatke is the author of one of my favorite picture books (Julia’s Home for Lost Creatures) and I got my copy signed at the New York Comic Con last year. (He’s super nice, by the way!) He asked if I had read Zita yet, and I told him I had not, but would put her on my TBR list. And then I found out that this year’s Summer Reading theme in our library is “A Universe of Stories.” So, time to head into outer space!
Zita the Spacegirl: Far from Home
Zita is playing with her friend Joseph on Earth when something falls from the sky. They go and investigate, and there’s a small device with a button in the middle of a crater. Joseph tells her not to push it, but she does, and it opens up some kind of rift, and he gets taken away. Zita follows after him and finds herself in a completely different world. Not only is it a different planet (that thankfully has breathable oxygen on it) but it is a planet that’s about to be destroyed by an asteroid! She sets off to find and then rescue her friend, and in the process the device gets smashed and she makes some new friends. She also learns that appearances may be deceiving, and not to trust everyone who says they want to help her. We also can see how prophecies can be mistaken. Reading this second also gave some of the relationships in the second book a bit more clarity.
Legends of Zita the Spacegirl
Oops, I read this first! That’s okay, though. I still highly enjoyed it, and it was easy enough to follow. We start with a little robot emerging from a trash heap, just in time to see the appearance of Zita the Spacegirl. (The whole planet, universe perhaps, has gone Zita crazy!) This robot can take the appearance of whoever it wants, and takes the appearance of Zita once it touches her. Zita thinks this is a great opportunity for a bit of fun and a break, so lets the robot sign autographs and pose for pictures while she goes off with Mouse. But RoboZita decides that she is Zita, and stops the real Zita from getting on her ship when it takes off. RoboZita will be the hero now!
Zita will have none of that, so she and Mouse (whose real name is Pizzicato) set off to find her ship and stop her roboself. We meet some new characters along the way, both friends and enemies. And there are some touching moments as well.
The artwork is amazing, and the sound effects he puts in make the scene so much better. The creativity in the different alien creatures is also awesome. And the emotion he can convey with creatures that are completely foreign is astounding!
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl
Oh, wow, this is a lot darker than the first two! Poor Zita has been arrested for her actions in the previous book, and now has to serve time. We meet some new friends and some old ones, but the baddie here is truly bad. The baddest of baddies is the leader of the prison planet Zita has been taken to, and he really is despicable. Zita, a child, gets smacked around and hurt! But despite his evilness, he does make some valid points about her arrest. He tears apart Zita’s actions, finding punishable offenses in each one. There are two (or more) sides to every story, and Zita is forced to see the other side in hers. Did Zita do the right thing in the first two books? For the most part, yes, but the baddie makes her doubt herself and her actions, and that breaks her spirit more than anything else. There’s a lesson to be learned in every situation, and hopefully Zita (and the reader) learns this one. (Also, he gives rocks expressions. Rocks! And they’re cute rocks!)
This is a complete trilogy, but it’s not the end of Zita. There’s a crossover coming out soon with one of his other series, Mighty Jack. And Zita is young yet. There’s plenty of time for more adventures!
(Also, at the end of the third book, we find out the origins of Zita. Basically, Ben met a girl that made up a character. Ben made a comic with that character to impress said girl. Ben married the girl. And they named one of their daughters Zita!)