Too Much Hopeless Savages
Too Much Hopeless Savages, the third book in the Hopeless Savages series, is written by Jen Van Meter and drawn by Christine Norrie and Ross Campbell. It begins with mom Nikki’s mother holding a protest on the family’s lawn. Gran has taken up with a religious type and, convinced that punk is sinful, calls the children names on TV.
Arsenal and Twitch, meanwhile, are dating the Shi brothers (Claude and Henry, in a followup to “Romance #1” from the first book). The four are flying to Hong Kong for a kung fu tournament. To get away from the bad influence on Gran, the parents take her and the other two kids, Rat and Zero, to see Arsenal compete.
Arsenal’s going up against the only boy who ever knocked her down, back when she was thirteen, which might explain her nervous stomach. She and Twitch also have to meet the Shis’ great-grandmother, a fortune teller. Her predictions for the foursome aren’t favorable, but the kids aren’t sure whether she’s telling the truth about what she sees or is simply biased against the non-Chinese brother and sister her favorite grandsons are in love with.
I could strongly identify with Arsenal’s checkered dating history. Guys kept dumping her because she was too complicated for them. She was smart and unpredictable and sometimes violent, and instead of seeing those qualities as virtues, guys were frightened away. Other girls were simpler and easier to deal with, so the guys went for them instead. It’s wonderful to see Claude be strong and appreciate her.
The flashback to the reform school girls’ carnival, the site of Arsenal’s defeat, and the various booth ideas they came up with to raise money was hilarious. The plots and subplots are very well-handled, with much of it coming straight out of the characters. Whether the reader’s familiar with the previous stories or not, these are interesting people, with creative and clever personalities. The dialogue is realistic and well-chosen to give the reader what they need to know without talking down to them.