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Who Is AC?

Overview

In this breakthrough graphic novel from the award-winning author of Mercury, there’s a new superhero in town—and she’s got kick-butt cyberpowers.

Meet Lin, a formerly average teenage girl whose cell phone zaps her with magical powers. But just as superpowers can travel through the ether, so can evil. As Lin starts to get a handle on her new abilities (while still observing her curfew!), she realizes she has to go head-to-head with a nefarious villain who spreads his influence ...

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Overview

In this breakthrough graphic novel from the award-winning author of Mercury, there’s a new superhero in town—and she’s got kick-butt cyberpowers.

Meet Lin, a formerly average teenage girl whose cell phone zaps her with magical powers. But just as superpowers can travel through the ether, so can evil. As Lin starts to get a handle on her new abilities (while still observing her curfew!), she realizes she has to go head-to-head with a nefarious villain who spreads his influence through binary code. And as if that weren’t enough, a teen blogger has dubbed her an “anonymous coward!” Can Lin detect the cyber-criminal’s vulnerability, save the day, and restore her reputation?

With ingenious scripting from graphic novel phenom Hope Larson and striking art from manga illustrator Tintin Pantoja, this action-packed story brims with magical realism and girl-power goodness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lin, a zine-writing 15-year-old who’s just moved to a small town, becomes an unwitting Sailor Moon–style superhero, activated by mysterious cellphone messages and visited by a “dispatcher” who nags her until she suits up. Her nemesis is a shadowy villain who possesses a glamorous rich girl in order to snare a boy named Trace. Pantoja’s heavily inked lines hew closely to manga conventions (she also illustrated the Manga Math Mysteries series), with action-packed panel sequences, big eyes, and outsize expressions. Oddly, it’s the teens’ relationships with their parents that are most nuanced. Lin has a gentle, academic, stay-at-home father, while Trace’s parents are harsh toward him but loyal to each other (an older brother’s death is hinted at but left unexplored). Larson’s (Mercury) dialogue veers from clichéd (“Relax,” Lin’s dispatcher tells her. “You’ll know what to do. It’s all in your program”) to certifiably clever: “If you noticed any ways I could, like, improve the whole robbery experience,” says a mask-wearing robber, “I’m totally open to feedback.” Boasting a high proportion of strong, independent girl characters, this book is suitable even for younger readers. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
Booklist
“Known for graphic novels steeped in magic realism, author Larson (Chiggers, 2008; Mercury, 2009) now adds the superhero genre to her repertoire of coming-of-age stories…. Clever plotting and Pantoja’s expressive, manga-influenced artwork help to pull the reader through the intertwining stories, setting up a strong introduction to what will surely become a series. Fans of Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon will find a lot to like here, and the added technological twist adds a freshness to the subgenre.”
Vera Brosgol
"A sharply-written and energetically-drawn new take on the magical girl genre, Larson and Pantoja are a match made in YA heaven."
Jen Wang
"Larson's smart and perceptive writing is perfectly matched with Pantoja's expressive artwork. Absolutely delightful."
From the Publisher
“Known for graphic novels steeped in magic realism, author Larson (Chiggers, 2008; Mercury, 2009) now adds the superhero genre to her repertoire of coming-of-age stories…. Clever plotting and Pantoja’s expressive, manga-influenced artwork help to pull the reader through the intertwining stories, setting up a strong introduction to what will surely become a series. Fans of Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon will find a lot to like here, and the added technological twist adds a freshness to the subgenre.”

“Lin, a zine-writing 15-year-old who’s just moved to a small town, becomes an unwitting Sailor Moon–style superhero, activated by mysterious cellphone messages and visited by a “dispatcher” who nags her until she suits up…. Boasting a high proportion of strong, independent girl characters, this book is suitable even for younger readers."

"This origin story of an unlikely teen superhero will have readers begging for more…. Larson gets a lot right with this story: Lin is an enormously likable protagonist, and both her unhappiness and her literary aspirations are easy to understand and relate to. Secondary characters—in particular Lin’s family—are satisfyingly complex. Pantoja’s black-and-white panels take on purple accents with the introduction of fantasy elements; their muscular lines ably complement Larson’s characterizations.”

"A sharply-written and energetically-drawn new take on the magical girl genre, Larson and Pantoja are a match made in YA heaven."

"Larson's smart and perceptive writing is perfectly matched with Pantoja's expressive artwork. Absolutely delightful."

June 2013 The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Lin is a relatably imperfect heroine, who thinks she knows about heroes until she is faced with being one…. Overall, readers who like their novels with as many questions as answers will revel in this unique, challenging take on the superhero graphic novel.”
June 2013 The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Lin is a relatably imperfect heroine, who thinks she knows about heroes until she is faced with being one…. Overall, readers who like their novels with as many questions as answers will revel in this unique, challenging take on the superhero graphic novel.”
VOYA - Deena Viviani
Lin spends a lonely summer riding her bike through her new small town and writing adventure stories, unconcerned about the strange phone call she received two months ago. One night, she witnesses a robbery, and when she tries to call for help on her cell phone, she changes into a superhero. She stops the robber with ease and hurries away from the scene to keep her identity hidden. A teen guy falls from his bike and loses his glasses in her wake, and when he gets home he blogs about "AC," the "Anonymous Coward" who caused his bike accident. Soon, Lin learns that she must save the town from cyber trolls, and she hopes to redeem her name at the same time. Who Is Ac? is set up for a sequel, but this first volume is too confusing to garner much interest. The story is nonlinear, and often two scenes that occur simultaneously are drawn consecutively without any transitional phrases like, "Earlier that day," or "Meanwhile." The book's description on the back cover is almost essential to learn how Lin gets her powers, and by the end of the book, the identity, motives, and goals of the main villain are unclear. The artwork neither adds to nor detracts from this haphazard book. Skip this graphic novel in favor of others with kick-butt heroines like My Boyfriend Is A Monster: I Love Him To Pieces by Evonne Tsang (Graphic Universe, 2011/Voya December 2011) and The Girl Who Owned A City by Dan Jolley and O. T. Nelson (Graphic Universe, 2012/Voya August 2012). Reviewer: Deena Viviani
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—This contemporary superhero story is a departure for Larson, who has previously done a graphic adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time (Farrar, 2012) as well as stories of magical realism. Three central characters reside in Barnhurst: new girl Lin is devoted to the creation of her zine, which she prints at a local photocopy establishment. To date she has sold one copy. Mel works at a local costume shop, providing period attire for tourist photographs. From home she blogs about her personal life, especially the pain following the accidental death of her horse. Trace is the nerdy photocopy shop manager, harboring a not-too-secret crush on Mel. Life changes for these teens when Lin uses her cell phone to report an attempted robbery. She inadvertently presses a button that dramatically transforms her into a superhero and subdues the would-be thief. She is baffled, exclaiming afterward, "What a rush! That happened, right? There's no way that happened." Meanwhile Mel connects with a shadowy online individual who promises to erase her heartbreaking blog posts. He exerts his influence to digitally transform Mel into a troll. With assistance from Trace, Lin frees Mel from her troll state and life resumes its familiar routine. Not surprisingly, a final panel image of Lin's cell phone suggests her superhero adventures will continue. Main characters are well developed with clear motives. Segues between scenes have a cinematic feel and effectively move the story forward. Pantoja's heavy black-line drawings, large eyes, and angled action panels give the art a mangalike appearance.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Kirkus Reviews
This origin story of an unlikely teen superhero will have readers begging for more. Lin is not happy about her family's move to tiny, college-town Barnhurst. She whiles away the summer before her sophomore year writing a fantasy zine. Meanwhile, geeky Trace, manager of the copy shop where Lin produces her zine, is trying to romance unhappy, well-to-do Mel, who pours out her heart on her blog. One evening, a masked robber holds up the copy shop; in trying to call 911 on her cellphone, Lin activates a mechanism that transforms her into a superhero, complete with costume, spear and signature shower of flower petals. It seems to have been engineered by a shadowy figure at a faraway keyboard, who also has an interest in Mel, whom he turns into a physically manifesting digital troll. Larson gets a lot right with this story: Lin is an enormously likable protagonist, and both her unhappiness and her literary aspirations are easy to understand and relate to. Secondary characters--in particular Lin's family--are satisfyingly complex. Pantoja's black-and-white panels take on purple accents with the introduction of fantasy elements; their muscular lines ably complement Larson's characterizations. But the story itself is all setup with no conclusion, and a sophisticated digital-dangers theme doesn't get enough space to develop coherently. The story needs sequels; if they are provided, readers will want to return to Lin and Barnhurst for more. (Graphic fantasy. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442426504
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/16/2013
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 347,925
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: GN250L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Hope Larson is the author of Who Is AC? and the author-illustrator of Mercury, Chiggers, Gray Horses, and Salamander Dream, which Publishers Weekly named one of 2005's best comics. She won a 2007 Eisner Award, the highest honor for a comic artist. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her at HopeLarson.com.

Tintin Pantoja graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2005 with a BFA in Illustration/Cartooning. Past works include Hamlet: The Manga Edition and three volumes of Graphic Universe’s Manga Math series. She currently resides in the Philippines. Visit her at TintinPantoja.com.

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