Title: Calamity Jack
Author: Shannon Hale & Dean Hale
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling, Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA / Bloomsbury PLC
Publication Date: 5 Jan 2010/ 4 Jan 2010
Hardback/Paperback: 144 pages
Stand alone or series: Sequel to Rapunzel’s Revenge but can be read as a stand alone
Why did I read the book: I read Rapunzel’s Revenge earlier this year and loved it.. I was delighted when I heard that there was going to be a sequel.
How did I get the book: Last week, I opened a package from Bloomsbury PLC and there it was in its shinning glory! I let out a SQUEE!
Summary: Jack likes to think of himself as a criminal mastermind…with an unfortunate amount of bad luck. A schemer, plotter, planner, trickster, swindler…maybe even thief? One fine day Jack picks a target a little more giant than the usual, and one little bean turns into a great big building-destroying beanstalk.
With help from Rapunzel (and her trusty braids), a pixie from Jack’s past, and a man with inventions from the future, they just might out-swindle the evil giants and put his beloved city back in the hands of good people ….while catapulting themselves and readers into another fantastical adventure.
Review: A few months ago I read Rapunzel’s Revenge and loved it: loved the retelling of the fairy tale set in the Wild West in which Rapunzel saves herself and is a very strong-willed young lady. A Native-American Jack of the Beanstalk was her side-kick and eventually, her romantic interest and when I heard he would get his own story, I was delighted.
Calamity Jack is a story in two parts, past and present. The first part is a retelling of the original Jack and the Beanstalk in which our esteemed protagonist is a con artist, working together with a pixie called Pru. He is not a highly successful schemer though: he has the plans, he has the guts topull them off but he lacks the one thing that is most important: luck.
Maybe because his heart is not entirely in his cons ? Nevertheless, life is hard for Jack and his momma and he will do anything to make her life better, including plotting the greatest scheme of them all; his target: the town’s most powerful man, the giant Blunderboar and his fortress. If he can get this one coup right, he and his mother will be well-off for life. Unfortunately things go awry and not only Jack’s momma is terribly disappointed in Jack but the whole town and the Giants are after him. He has no choice but to run which is how he ends up in the West (meeting Rapunzel and the events of the previous book take place).
In the second part, Jack and Rapunzel decide go back. He now has the means to help his mother and he needs to set things right. What he didn’t expect is that the repercussions of his own scheme are much worse than he expected; couple that with the fact that the city is now under siege from the terrible Ant People and you have a Situation. Together, Jack and Rapunzel will work to free the city and Jack’s momma and eventually answer the question: is Jack a good man or a bad man?
Calamity Jack is as much fun as Rapunzel’s Revenge: full of action, gimmicks and wonderful characters. Rapunzel remains my favourite and even though the story here is not from her point of view, she is still a very important part of the story. And a cool one at that: I love how she still uses her braid, now unattached to her head, as a lasso. Even if Jack is the narrator here, Rapunzel is still the proper Heroine, the one that gets in danger to save everybody. And I just LOVED to see how he is incredibly aware of how cool, amazing, powerful she is and how he has such admiration for her – even if he feels he is not good enough for her.
And this is it really: this is Jack’s journey to become a man. He is surrounded by strong, capable women, his momma and Rapunzel; both have a strong sense of right and wrong whereas Jack navigates in a greyer area and this contrast makes him very aware of his shortcomings. He wants nothing but to be worthy of these two women and of his traditions. The conclusion of the story is very sweet and ever so right.
As for the art, I took me some getting used to it when first introduced to Nathan Hale’s illustration in Rapunzel’s Revenge. Now, that I am, I like it. The panels are very clean and bright and I loved how the difference between the wild, wild west from the previous book and the slick, steampunkish feel that the city has.
In the end, I didn’t think Calamity Jack was as brilliant as Rapunzel’s Revenge (mostly because Jack is not as a larger-than-life a character as Rapunzel is) but I still very much enjoyed it.
Notable Quotes/ Parts: Every single scene with Rapunzel. Oh my, I might have a girl-crush!
Verdict: Although Calamity Jack lacked the sheer brilliance that was Rapunzel’s Revenge, I still thought it was fun and highly recommend it.
Rating: 7 – Very Good
Reading Next: Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey