Book review: Ubby’s Underdogs – The Legend of the Phoenix Dragon by Brenton E McKenna

Written for the NSW Writers’ Centre Newsbite publication

Having not read a graphic novel before, I wasn’t able to make a comparison with similar works, however this first instalment in the Ubby’s Underdogs trilogy is certainly compelling, exciting and very innovative.  This first ever Indigenous graphic novel tells the story of Ubby, a young and tough Aboriginal girl, and her friends, collectively known as the Underdogs.  Set in 1940s Broome, the novel weaves in real elements of culture and identity, creating a rich and detailed fantasy full of different characters and intertwining plot lines that will appeal to children and young adults.  The graphics are something akin to the manga style, but with a fresh twist.

What struck me about this book is the attention to detail shown, the exciting and fantastic story fashioned by a clearly passionate author who loves his work.  No element is left to chance, and, meticulously constructed, the story is epic and the context highly original.  The imagery and dialogue seem somewhat complicated for the uninitiated, but not in any way that it could be considered sloppy or lacking in flow; if anything, the novel compels the reader to step up to the challenge of learning how to read a graphic novel, and once used to it, the reader experience is another dimension beyond that of a regular novel.  It can be considered something of a link between the novel and film, refreshing, fun and fast-paced.  If I were a kid again, I would be waiting with bated breath for the next instalment!


Author: curiosikat

Writer, editor, linguist, social historian...

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