XOC: The Journey of a Great White

Matt Dembicki, Author, Matt Dembicki, Illustrator, Evan Keeling, Illustrator
Matt Dembicki and Evan Keeling. Oni, $19.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-934964-85-9
Reviewed on: 04/30/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
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On a quiet rock off the California coast, a group of seals prepare for a swim, but no sooner have they slipped beneath the surface than they are attacked by a great white shark. As many scramble to escape, the water is soon stained red. This opening scene establishes a major theme for the rest of the book—death is everywhere under the ocean—but after its strong opening, XOC founders. Characters sometimes arrive without introduction, dialogue comes and goes, and it feels like the authors haven't decided exactly what type of book they want to write: a rollicking all ages adventure story, an educational portrayal of a shark's life, or a didactic environmental narrative for children. XOC lands somewhere between all of these, and as a result, none of them exactly works. The saving grace is the artwork. Each image is packed with naturalistic detail, action, and vibrant color. Had the authors chosen to tell the story entirely through visuals, XOC might have been an interesting meditation on the life of a rarely seen predator. (July)
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