The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

The Blurb On The Back:

Who runs the world? SQUIRRELS!

Fourteen-year-old Doreen Green just moved from sunny California to the small town of Shady Oaks.  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!

As Squirrel Girl, Doreen rescues cats from trees, keeps the sidewalks clean and dissuades vandalism.  All is well until a real-life Super Villain declares Squirrel Girl his archenemy.  Is Doreen ready to become a fully fledged Super Hero?  Or will she go … NUTS?

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

14-year-old Doreen Green and her parents have just moved from California to Shady Oaks, New Jersey.  Starting a new school and making new friends is always hard but Doreen finds it more difficult than other people because she has the super powers of a squirrel – complete with fluffy tail and long front teeth, which she has keep in check by gnawing on logs.  Doreen’s parents encourage her to keep her powers a secret because other people would be jealous but Doreen loves her powers, especially talking to squirrels.

Soon she finds a potential human friend in Ana Sofia (a girl who likes maths and wears hearing aids) and a squirrel friend in Tippy-Toe.  But Shady Oaks is troubled with petty crime from vandalism to someone laying out cruel traps to kill the local squirrels.  Doreen decides to help try and clear it up, but doing so attracts the interest of a Super Villain keen to join Hydra – and what better way to do that than by declaring the so-called Squirrel Girl to be their arch enemy?

Shannon Hale and Dean Hale’s YA Marvel superhero tie-in novel (charmingly illustrated by Bruno Mangyoku) is a fun-filled delight from beginning to end with great humour (including some knowing winks at the Avengers universe), characters you can really root for (not least the perennially optimistic and indomitable Doreen) and more squirrels than you can shake an acorn at.  I picked this up because I’d seen Squirrel Girl referenced on Twitter and wanted to find out more and I think this is a great introduction to the character (with the authors also providing suggested graphic novels for those interested in finding out more).  It’s refreshing to read about a confident, friendly joyous teenage female character who always looks for the best in a situation and I loved Doreen’s growing friendships with the more reserved Ana Sofia and defensive Tippy-Toe.  The dialogue crackles, the action is well drawn and there are a lot of giggles to be had (an exchange with Tony Stark literally made me LOL while the squirrel-speak sections are just adorable).  My only real criticism is that the antagonist is underdrawn and is revealed a little late in the book such that their motivation in picking a fight with an oblivious Doreen didn’t really convince.  Despite this, I really enjoyed the book and am adding more Squirrel Girl to my To Read Pile.

THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL: SQUIRREL MEETS WORLD will be released in the United Kingdom on 1st June 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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