I picked this up on a whim at the bookstore because it just look so darn neat. It is the first in a series of at least two graphic novels targeted at the Middle Grade age group. The second book will be titled The Jungle and is due out in May of 2011. It was very well done. It is a beautiful book with wonderful illustrations and a dark and engaging story.
When their child is kidnapped from them by the Boogeyman the child's toys send a rescue team into the Dark to rescue him. The team consists of a Colonel, a teddy bear, a duck, a piggy bank, a jester, an indian princess, and a ballerina. Once they enter the Dark they are transformed into more real-life versions of themselves and are forced to combat the evil minions of the Boogeyman.
This book reminded a bit of the movie Toy Story, but darker and with monsters and battles. The dark tone of it also reminded some of The Plucker by Brom. The story is engaging and interesting; the toys all have unique personalities of their own. You can't help but be drawn into their epic adventure to rescue the boy they love.
The world of the Dark is creepy and a bit scary, so this isn't a book for younger children but children middle grade and up should enjoy it. There are some neat ideas in here; the idea of the Dark being the Boogeyman's kingdom is a good one. At one point the Toys get trapped on a game board where they have to play to live; again an idea I've seen before but an excellent idea and well executed in this book.
The illustrations are awesome and beautiful; they are all done in sepia tones. There were points were I wished that we could see the Dark in a full color palette but the choice to go with sepia tones matches the tone of the story...and of course it is The Dark so it is ironic that it is not in full color.
The story itself does get a bit confusing. In general we follow the toys on their journey but there are short breaks where the story goes back to the child and his brother. The boys are playing with the toys and it is hard to tell if these scenes are from the past or if the boys are playing with the toys in the present, yet the toys are able to journey through the dark at the same time. I just wasn't sure what was going on here.
The book ends well enough, but the Toys definitely have quite a bit further to go on their journey before they find their Boy.
Overall an excellent read. It looses half a star because the story gets a bit confusing at points and I really think the story would have had more impact if it had been done in muted full color tones (although I understand why the authors/illustrator chose not to go this route). I will be checking out future book in this series. I think readers that enjoy a good fantasy adventure graphic novel with a dark overtone to it will enjoy this. If you liked Plucker by Brom I would check it out (although Plucker is a lot darker than this book).