Penny Brighton, 18, is something of a manic pixie, and by the end of this exceptionally entertaining comic, she’s on her way to becoming one guy’s dream girl, even though disaster follows her everywhere. Part rom-com, part pop-culture parody, the story opens with Penny losing her job, parting ways with her friend/roommate Helen, and moving into Helen’s newly empty storage unit. After Penny snags a job at the Laundromat—which is managed by Helen’s surly 11-year-old brother—she meets geeky desk clerk Walter, and an awkward romance is born. Penny’s story grew out of Hirsh and Ota’s Johnny Wander webcomic, and they’re in perfect sync, delivering drily funny dialogue and outlandish visual comedy that plays with conventions of film, manga, and geek culture (for her part, Penny adores fantasy romance novels with titles like Dragon Lust and Succubus Seduced, which she organizes “according to hotness”). The plot veers into action-thriller territory toward the end, blurring the lines between what’s real and imagined, but Penny’s idiosyncratic exuberance carries the day, and her hapless attempts to get her life in order should hit home with a broad range of readers. Ages 13–up. (Mar.)■
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015 Release date: 03/22/2016 Genre: Children's
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