I’ll openly admit it, I’m not a YouTuber by nature. I’ll go on to check out the latest Taylor Swift music video and that’s about it. I’d much rather be reading or listening to a podcast while out for a walk… in terms of today’s teens that practically makes me a dinosaur, I know. So reading Username: Evie was the first time that I had ever come across Joe Sugg, also known as the brother of the infamous vlogger, Zoella. Just quietly, Joe, from what I’ve received to read I find you far more interesting.
Never much of a comic book reader growing up, I’ve grown to appreciate graphic novels not only for their beautiful art but also for the way that they allow stories to come alive for those who perhaps find sitting down to read huge screeds of text a challenge. When teaching I’ve often used them as a “gateway drug” to get students interested in reading again. The premise of Sugg’s book is ideal for such a purpose. Infinitely relatable to anyone who has struggled to fit in as a teen, the story sees a female protagonist on the outskirts of high school society. Her mother has already passed, her dad is ill and in the inevitable aftermath of his death she discovers that he has left her a computer programme, created a place where she can be herself. She doesn’t expect to be drawn through into an alternate reality and what evolves after that will change her forever.
The artwork in this book is amazing – the choice of colours make the difference between worlds so much clearer and the fine detail in drawings is something to behold. While the comic style is conventional, there’s definitely a hint of manga style to it which lends itself well to the storyline. I was impressed at how Sugg manages to convey some quite complex ideas without making excessive use of text boxes, always a challenge when creating a graphic novel.
At a couple of points the plot verges into the cliche, but not so deeply to affect the enjoyment of the book – even from an adult perspective. The message is ultimately uplifting and rewarding. Teenagers will absolutely love it – if I had an fourteen-year-old niece/nephew/cousin this would definitely be on the Christmas present list – and it could even be a book that you read as a family. Check it out!
If you enjoy Username: Evie, you may also want to read:
- Maus by Art Spiegelman – depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor and the associated fallout that those experiences had on their lives. Striking in the lack of colour used and the depiction of different races as anthropomorphic animals (Jews=Mice, Nazi Germans=Cats, etc)
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card et. al – my first experience of the story of Ender’s Game was not through the original novel or through the recent film but through excerpts of the graphic novel. It definitely lends something to the visual story that I feel was lost in the film.