The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal (#3) by Clint McElroy

Published: 14th July 2020Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 First Second
Illustrator: Carey Pietsch
Pages: 272
Format: Graphic Novel
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Star

START YOUR ENGINES, friends, as we hit the road again with Taako, Magnus and Merle, the beloved agents of chaos from the #1 New York Times Bestselling books The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins and The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited.

Our boys have gone full-time at the Bureau of Balance, and their next assignment is a real thorny one: apprehending The Raven, a master thief who’s tapped into the power of a Grand Relic to ransack the city of Goldcliff. Local life-saver Lieutenant Hurley pulls them out of the woods, only to throw them headlong into the world of battle wagon racing, Goldcliff’s favorite high-stakes low-legality sport and The Raven’s chosen battlefield. Will the boys and Hurley be able to reclaim the Relic and pull The Raven back from the brink, or will they get lost in the weeds?

Based on the beloved blockbuster podcast where three brothers and their dad play a tabletop RPG in real time, The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal has it all: blossoming new friendships, pining for outlaw lovers, and a rollicking race you can root for!

The third graphic novel of The Adventure Zone podcast adaptation is as wonderful as the audio episodes it’s representing. This was my favourite arc of the podcast and seeing it come to life on the page with stunning illustrations and the humour and charm of the character dialogue is fantastic.

My favourite thing is at the start of the book there is a fantastic game board where you can catch up on what happened previously. With +1 and -1 consequences for certain events and a fun and informative way of reminding readers what has happened it is an incredibly clever addition that doesn’t take away from the incoming story but it adds a whole lot of extra entertainment.

The story combines Petals to the Metal arc as well as Moonlighting episodes once more. It’s a great way to combine the interlude episodes because they have a lot of important plot, and it’s a great frame for the narrative to have. Once again Pietsch is a master at including visual references from the podcast as well as creating incredible illustrations for the spectacular and creative narrative Griffin has created.

The standards of the novel series remain, each time a character is introduced they have a mini ID chart telling us about their race, class, and proficiencies like a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet but my favourite thing is the proficiencies change each time and are relevant to the scene at hand or are used to tell you a bit more about their character, always with the Pietsch humour attached.

The depiction of the battle racers and the action of the entire race was full of drama and action, often no words were needed as Pietsch captures facial expressions, and action incredibly well. It’s not all action though as the McElroy humour and the hilarious, weird, and sometimes strange moments from the podcast are included. There are also heartfelt moments that are beautifully conveyed and the alterations to the podcast are fantastic as it brings a more bittersweet moment of hope and rectifies previous miscalculations when it was a more free form storyline.

There’s the usual mystery and intrigue around the B.O.B and the mystery Red Robes which furthers the larger plot and it all fits together seamlessly for a well-rounded story and fantastic addition to this series.

What I love most about these adaptations is that the smallest thing reminds me of the magic of the podcast and it resurfaces my desire to relive it again for the first time because Griffin created such a beautiful and creative storyline and the boys as a group made a fantastic story. Seeing it transported into this graphic novel shows that while a few things have been changed and adapted for the format, the essence of the story is there, and these characters I’ve grown to love over the years come alive on the page. It’s a wonderful feeling to read these stories and be brought back to those moments alone listening to the audio and creating the story in my mind. The fact the book provokes the same feeling and emotion is a test to Pietsch and the McElroy’s skill.

You can purchase The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

 Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

8th Blogiversary Celebrations + Int Giveaway!

Eight years today. Eight years! I will continue to be astounded by the passing of time every single year I celebrate my blogiversary because I am still mentally half back in that third year mark or somewhere even around the fifth where that was a mini milestone and seemed like a huge number. Now I’m at eight years and it’s closer to ten than not and that’s a whole thing in itself.

In eight years I know my writing has improved, I know I have read some amazing books, and shared some wonderful adventures but I also know I have been able to share all my thoughts and rambles and opinions with some great people in the book and blogging community. I would like to thank the wonderful people who have been following me from the very beginning, to those who found me along the way, and those who stuck around during those times when everything went a bit haywire over the years. I am incredibly grateful.

Last year was a year nobody was expecting so to come through the other side with people still wanting to read my reviews and my thoughts means the world.

I am excited about what this next year of blogging will bring, I have a few ideas up my sleeve for features which I am excited for and even though in person book events are on hold, there are always virtual events to look forward to.

Today though is all about celebrating and thanking you guys! I’m feeling super generous this year and I am giving THREE lucky people the chance to win ONE of the books from the selection below. Included is my Top Five reads from 2020 as well as a few other favourites I read this past year.

The Selection

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

Once & Future (#1) by A. R. Capetta

Heartstopper (#1) by Alice Oseman

The Adventure Zone: Petals the to Metal by Clint McElroy*

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

The Lightning Thief (#1) by Rick Riordan

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

 

*This item is a sequel that possibly won’t make any sense if you haven’t read the previous ones. Keep that in mind when picking your book.

 

To enter: For a chance to win one of the pictured books simply enter here and complete the Rafflecopter form.

Please note: This giveaway is international on the basis the Book Depository ships to your country. To see if you are eligible you can check their website.

Thank you for helping me celebrate and if you entered the draw I wish you the best of luck!

Giveaway runs until midnight AEDT on Saturday 20th February 2021

Top Five of 2020

Even with 2020 being what it was, I still managed to read some truly remarkable books. I am so excited to share these ones because some of these are so fantastic I had gifted them five stars before I’d even finished. I’ve got two gender flipped classic retellings, a brilliant graphic novel and stories full of fun and diversity and representation. Even the picture books are full of delight, filled with humour, absurdness and incredibly sweet.

Once & Future (#1) by A. R. Capetta

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This story is phenomenal! It’s the King Arthur legend, set in the future, set in space, with a female Arthur and a fabulous, beautifully constructed time loop of curses and legends and a beautiful cast of diverse characters that you will fall in love with. Honestly the detail and world building Capetta has done is a constant delight every time something else pops up and the way the original characters and established mythology is woven into it is brilliant. It is the myth we all know but it also has a new story unfolding too which was amazing to read about.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (#1) by Mackenzi Lee

This was such an interesting book because I got to watch my own opinions of these characters gradually change as the book progressed. Lee takes you on a journey as you go from hating some characters to loving them and it’s a growth for them as well which is even better. The story is wonderful, it’s creative, full of sarcasm, has fabulous sibling banter and while it’s not overly complicated it has enough daring and adventure to make it captivating.

 

 

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

What stood out for me with this book was how much it felt like a real teenage story. Guillaume has captured the voice so well that you felt like these characters were real life teenagers living their lives in front of you. The story is perfect in that it shows how families and life can be imperfect and that teenage years can be downright messy. I adored it from start to finish and it’s an added bonus that it’s an Aussie YA because I loved seeing my own experiences reflected in a story.

 

 

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Gender flipped Robin Hood? Yes please. I loved every minute of this book, the way the original myth is woven into this retelling is amazing. Spooner doesn’t bring it into modern times or change the era, instead she gives us a brilliant story about another origin for the Robin Hood myth and it is one I will eagerly get behind. There’re secrets and danger and it’s full of tension and suspense which is stressful but also quite exhilarating when you know anything could happen. This is a story full of adventure but also full of love and justice, secrets and surprises.

 

The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal (#3) by Clint McElroy

I will admit if these keep coming out once a year they will end up on this list every time. I love this story and this is my absolute favourite arc in the Balance storyline and to see it play out before me with the images I tried to conjure in my head is fantastic. Pietsch has done another stunning job on the illustrations and as the next book in the series it is a great addition to the ongoing storyline. It is just as funny and just as brilliant as the podcast with the little adjustments required for the format change which adds its own special something.

 

Honourable Mention

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

 

Top Five Picture Books

Stormy: A Story About Finding A Forever Home by Guojing

Truman by Jean Reidy

71 Sheep Try Soccer by Pablo Albo

The Good Egg by Jory John

The Duckling Gets a Cookie by Mo Willems

 

Murder on the Rockport Limited: From Podcast to Graphic Novel

With the release of the second The Adventure Zone graphic novel, Ally from Ally’s Appraisals and I thought it would be a great idea to look at how we each experienced the novel; myself having listened to the entire TAZ Balance podcast, and her only having read the graphic novels.

Naturally there are a few differences in structure for graphic novel adaptation, but a lot has thankfully stayed the same.

Warning: If you haven’t listened to the podcast for this arc, here there be minor spoilers.

 

How did you enjoy the story knowing/not knowing the podcast?

Amy: I loved the story because I loved reliving the story in visual form. I heard the boy’s voices in my head and I loved being able to read it with their voices.

Ally: Before reading Murder on the Rockport Limited, I had read the first in the series, Here There Be Gerblins and I remember really loving both the story and characters. While I’m not as familiar with the characters as Amy, I very much got a clear grasp of their characters.

Amy: With the hints and clues to future events I knew what was coming and I loved the easter egg hunt to see just what Carey had included in the illustrations. From background detail, characters in crowds or the smallest detail in character stat sheets it was a fun read to see the references I understood, and it often replaces some of the jokes that were excluded by simply making them visual.

Ally: Sometimes I would see little details in the background or read an offhand comment by a character and it would pull me up. Just the knowledge that this story has already been told in a different format really made me aware of little things like this – I couldn’t help thinking, ‘I am sure this means something to someone.’

Amy: It’s hard to say just listen to the arc to match the graphic novel because it draws from multiple episodes. Murder on the Rockport Limited takes storyline from episodes before and after the actual arc and even alludes to things that are far from happening.

Ally: I will admit that after I finished the graphic novel I did flip back to certain pages and ask my partner questions like, ‘will this come back in later books?’ or ‘Is this character important?’ I swear the characters Angus talks to at the end were too fancy and pretty looking to just be throw away characters – I swear they must be coming back or something!

Things Amy noticed that were missing or different from the podcast

While the majority of the storyline was there, naturally not everything could be included. Seeing which scenes and lines were omitted was an interesting game I played while I read and while I know some parts couldn’t possibly be included because the content wasn’t quite story related or only possible in the audio medium, they were missed.

  • I missed the references to everyone in the town of Rockport looking like Tom Bodett, and I wished desperately that Carey had made all the background characters look like Tom Bodett as a subtle nod, but I understand why she couldn’t do that.
  • In the podcast, The Director gives the trio tokens and are told to present them to the resident artificer and “he will help [them] out with acquiring a few new tools that [they] can use on [their] adventure”. She also provides directions and instructs them about how to find the chambers. In the graphic novel this is brushed over with the characters getting a guidebook which explains everything they need to know about navigating the moon base, and Taako mentions their first stop is to see Leon the Artificer.
  • Connected to this, Leon mentions it is against the rules of the Bureau of Balance to hand out magical items to people, and that instead they leave it to fate as a work around situation. This is the only explanation given before the tokens are put in and each character gets their new item. Everything else is the same, the items they acquire are the same, and Taako has the first of his many funny and trying interactions with poor Leon about how he uses the machine.
  • Structurally it contains not only the Rockport arc, but the Moonlighting episodes from before and after. These episodes, come to be known as Lunar Interludes, are the events that happen on the Bureau moon base that are separate from the adventure arcs. This is where characters level up, buy items and you get more of the overarching story from the Director. The way they have been split is perfect for the graphic novel as it gives great cliff hangers and it allows the Interludes to be included because they hold vital information as well.
  • There were a couple big scenes not included such as the initiation test the trio were required to do to join the Bureau of Balance as well as a battle in a swamp when they first land near Rockport. These are inconsequential really, though there were some great origins of later events, but this was early on in the podcast when Griffin was trying to have more random mini battles for the players and not simply continual story.
  • Robbie at the moment is only visually referenced which means no Pringles just yet but I have high hopes for his return if the story stays on the same track.
  • Just as in Gerblins the official licenced names of characters and places have to be changed so instead of going to Neverwinter the train is heading to Ever Summer which is just adorable.
  • The other big one is of course the ending. While the podcast arc ends simply enough, the novel adds a little extra that extends the character development and brings a few more details forward so we don’t need to wait for further arcs to learn things. It also gives a greater sense of the Bigger Picture and great foreshadowing.
  • Not quite a difference but additional dialogue is included that doesn’t happen in the original story. This is often still within the established scenes though and is more for space and timing than anything else. There is still word by word dialogue taken from the podcast, even if it is out of order it is included. Clint has tidied up Griffin and the boys’ conversations into something succinct and appear more intentional, the jokes that are spur of the moment on the podcast become clever and funny dialogue in the story.

Looking at the list it goes to show how much actually stays the same. The tiny jokes and the off the cuff remarks are the main things missing but they are also things that are funny in the podcast, not actually connected to the story (see Jenkin’s voice crisis which is a delight).

Ally: Oh wow! This does answer a lot of the questions that arose for me when I was reading. I did think the whole scenes on the moon were over so quickly! It just seems all so easy and glossed over how they joined the Bureau of Balance – I’m glad there is more to that whole part of the story.

Also Tom Bodett? Pringles? I – I honestly have no words…

 

Things that didn’t make sense to Ally as a first time reader of the story

While I extremely happy to pick up the two The Adventure Zone graphic novels and read them with not much prior knowledge, there were a few things that I thought I was missing out on. Nothing too serious just small moments and throwaway comments that let me thinking that there was probably more to it than what I read.

  • No dogs on the moon – I honestly have no idea why this caused such a passionate response. I know Magnus asked for a dog but the passioned panel of NO DOGS ON THE MOON really confused me. I just kept asking myself, why? What did the dogs do? Why aren’t they allowed back 😛
  • Leon and the gashapon machine that the trio used their tokens on really confused me. While it certainly was a visual joke that worked well, I think the conversational tone really threw me as I did not really get what was happening.
  • The part where the trio find out about the organisation and the moon base happened so quickly!

I felt like I had barely been introduced to this before we were speeding onto the next adventure. Like, what is the Bureau of Balance – I have a basic understanding but it did leave me quite unsure and curious.

As you can see, the main points that didn’t completely gel with me were the ones based on the moon. So, while I completely followed the main story, I did feel like the larger story and world building was a bit vague. Due to this, I did feel this part of the story left a lot of gaps for questions for me but because of how awesome the rest of the following story was, I was quick to forgive and move on.

 

Final Thoughts

Ally: Having read Amy’s post about her experiences with the graphic novel, I am shocked at how much content has been left out as well as how much foreshadowing there appears to be. Some of the content left out does appear to relate to moments that confused me, so it is good to know that there is the chance that it will be included and fleshed out more in future releases.

Amy: Overall, I think it certainly acceptable to only experience the story through the graphic novels because I have full trust in Clint and Carey to bring to life Griffin’s story and all the wonderful additions the boys made on their epic journey during production.

Ally: I’m not ready to sit down and listen to the podcast but as a first time reader, I am really enjoying the characters, the story, and the way that the DnD elements have been incorporated into it all.

*          *          *

It was fascinating to see how the graphic novel came across to someone who had never listened to the podcast.

If you’d like to read my review of Murder on the Rockport Limited click here or if you’d like to get started listening to The Adventure Zone: Balance from the very beginning you can find it here. If you enjoy a great story or actual play D&D podcasts it might be just the story for you.

 My review of the first book Here There Be Gerblins can be read here. The third book Petals to the Metal is available now.

 

Top Five of 2019

I will be the first to admit this is long overdue. Overdue in that I normally publish this in early January and it is now May, but since this year’s been A Challenge already it kept getting put off by various natural disasters in the area and pandemics, briefly forgotten about, then put off again. Now I am making myself put it up because the completionist in me needs it up, but also it is a great chance to revisit the books I loved last year and hope to share my enthusiasm for them at the same time.

After the success of adding books through the year I felt were contenders, I ended my list with 11:  6 books and 5 picture books. This means my honourable mentions is quite light with only one but after thinking I could scrap it entirely, I changed my mind because I really enjoyed the extra book. It was a toss-up between which one I would switch out but I think I’ve made the right choice.

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

43709211This was the first book I put on the list at the start of 2019. It wasn’t the most amazing book I had read in terms of emotions or how it moved me, but I loved it so much because it is a story that is so cleverly told it is hard not to be constantly amazed at Capin’s skill. The reflections with historical events and reimaginings of historical people is divine and each time I realised a reference, a moment, or a character portrayal I fell even further in love. This is Tudor England set in a US high school and honestly those two things are perfectly fitting with a class system, drama, and chaos. I love that era and seeing it play out in the modern era was an absolute joy.

 

 

30619981How to Fight A Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell

Honestly this whole series could be on this list so please start at book one if you pick this up. The reason I chose book twelve though, the final in the series, was because this book in particular was incredible. I loved every one of these books and inhaled them one after the other but this book in particular broke my heart. After the journey I had been on with the other eleven books, this was the perfect ending that brings the whole life of Hiccup and his adventure together. It had no right to make me cry through the majority of it and while each of these books will move you and break your heart a little, this one throws everything at you and it’s simply perfect.

 

 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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This book, oh my gosh. It took me a couple goes to start but then I was in and was not leaving. It is heart wrenching, fascinating, and the world is so incredibly built that the fact not everything about the society and world was explained didn’t matter because it was established and functional and the focus is on the characters and their reactions to it. It is deep and impactful and brilliantly told.

 

 

 

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

39893545Book two of the Truly Devious series and it does not disappoint. It is filled with answers, new questions, a deeper descent into the mystery of this school and this kidnapping and as Johnson plays it out you can’t help but be enraptured.

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited by Clint McElroy

41812788Pretty sure these graphic novels will be on here every single year if they continue with their publishing schedule. From the A-MA-ZING podcast Clint has once again transferred it brilliantly into written form. The illustrations are fantastic, the humour is fantastic, and the story is wrapped up but there’s an ongoing arc to keep your interest piqued.

 

 

 

Honourable Mention

His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler

 

Top Five Picture Books

Giraffe Problems by Jory John

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Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman

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Little Puggle’s Song by Vicki Conley

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The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

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I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

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