London Deep by Robin Price and Paul McGrory is story about a girl in a future where London is under water from global warming, and the APD (adult police) and YPD (youth police) compete to keep the peace in their watery new world.
I was intrigued when the publisher (Mogzilla, U.K.) offered to send me a review copy. London Deep is half-novella, half-graphic novel, and this new format both fascinates me and caused some difficulty in reading it. Unlike some illustrated novels, the graphic illustrations (which are edgy and cool) in London Deep are integral to the story. Rather than enhancing the story, they are part of the story – if you skip them, you will miss out on a scene in the novel.
This is intriguing as a way to draw in reluctant readers, without going to an all-picture format like a graphic novel. There are plenty of words in this book, and they tell most of the story. But switching back and forth between “story-as-graphic-novel” and “story-as-text-novel” had my brain doing flip-flops. And I discovered something about reading in the process. Graphic novels require your brain to fill in great swaths of story – much happens in between frames and you, the reader, are expected to fill in the blanks. Text stories carry you along more smoothly, with blanks left between scenes or chapters, in more easily anticipated jumps. Not only was it difficult to jump between text and comic art, but the text itself seemed to have a “graphic novel” feel to it, in that there were many blanks left in between sentences, for the reader to fill in. It may be my adult brain (or ‘Dult brain as protagonist Jem would say) had more difficulty with this than a young reader would.
RL: n/a CSM: n/a Rating: PG Content: characters in peril
Beyond formatting issues, this was a cute story, with colorful characters and a rich future-world. Jemima Mallard, daughter of the Chief Inspector of the Adult Police, has a day that goes from bad (her houseboat sinks) to worse (losing precious tanks of air) to sunk (captured by the Youth Police, and then underwater terrorists). I’m still not quite sure how the YPD and APD came into existence, but perhaps that will be explained in the sequel Father Thames. The action is fast-paced, but the violence kept to a minimum, making London Deep an excellent read for reluctant readers ages 8+. There’s not a reading level designation on the book yet, but I would place it somewhere around RL4-5.
My very favorite part actually was an ad at the end for another Mogzilla book, I Am SpartaPuss, a cat tale set in Ancient Rome. I may have to read that one next!