Judd Winick’s Hilo series is my favourite kid’s graphic novel series. I love it because it’s entertaining, action-packed, and laugh-out-loud-funny, but it also has real emotional depth. His characters are saving the world and putting themselves in danger while doing so, and Judd shows how this affects his characters, especially the grief they feel at losing friends. In the first six books in the series, D.J., Gina and Hilo have been through a lot together, and they’ve come out the other side as different kids. The latest book in the series, Gina – the Girl Who Broke the World, starts a new chapter for our heroes, but it still has everything I love about the Hilo series.
Gina, D.J. and Hilo are still coming to terms with the events in All the Pieces Fit. Things are different for everyone. Hilo is now human and living with D.J. and his family, and Gina can do more magic than ever before. She could use her magic to help others, but she knows that sometimes magic isn’t enough to save the ones you love. When strange beings start appearing around their town, it seems that only Gina can see and hear them. They appear to be hunting the Nestor, but they won’t reveal what or who the Nestor is. D.J. and Hilo want to help Gina, so she helps them to see the creatures. When they finally meet the Nestor, the creatures explain that they just want to get home, and Gina offers to help them. Gina must use all of her magic to help the Nestor return home, but in doing so, will put the entire earth in jeopardy.
Gina – the Girl Who Broke the World is an awesome start to a new chapter of Hilo. This book is a real emotional rollercoaster, as I was cracking up at Hilo’s antics one moment and my heart was breaking the next. Gina, D.J. and Hilo are grieving for their friends so are all finding it hard to adjust to their new lives. They are such good friends though, as they take note of how they are each feeling and try to help in their own way. You can tell, by their actions and from the illustrations, that they care deeply for each other. I love the way that Judd can show us this using just a look between the characters.
Hilo has always made me laugh but he made me chuckle so many times in this book. He keeps forgetting that he’s human now and doesn’t have any powers. He tries to fly like he used to and ends up flat on his face, or tries to shoots beams from his hands but remembers he can’t do that either. Now that he’s human he can eat real food and he becomes totally obsessed with mango. He wants to join Gina to fight the monsters so he makes special tights for him and D.J. so that they’ll look the part. My favourite Hilo moment is when he is distracting the babysitter with the face he’s drawn on his belly. There are some things that he can do though that suggests that he is not completely human.
Judd’s art is fantastic as always. The thing I love the most about Judd’s storytelling is that so much of it is visual. There are chunks of the story, when the kids are fighting monsters, where there is very little text. That is what makes the Hilo series so great for struggling or reluctant readers, as the stories are light on text and heavy on visual storytelling. Judd’s characters are also very expressive, so it is clear to see their emotions on their face and in their body language.
I can’t recommend the Hilo series highly enough. If you haven’t discovered them yet, go and find the first volume, Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth. If you’ve read all of the others in the series you must get your hands on this volume immediately. I will be eagerly awaiting Hilo book 8, coming in 2022.