Space Battle Lunchtime Volume 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! & Volume 2: A Recipe for Disaster by Natalie Riess, 100 pp, RL: 5

Space Battle Lunchtime, Volumes 1 & 2
Purchased at Barnes & Noble
Story: Originally an eight issue comic series, Lights, Camera, Snacktion! and A Recipe for Disaster deliver issues 1 - 4 and 5 - 8 respectively with original issue covers serving as chapter headings. At the start of Space Battle Lunchtime, our hero Peony is an aspiring baker working in coffee house when she attracts the attention of Zonda, alien assistant to the producer of Space Battle Lunchtime, one of the most popular cooking competition shows seen throughout the universe.  Peony is instantly transported to a studio in space where she will compete with six other chefs in the newest season of the show. Unfortunately, cooking with mysterious intergalactic ingredients and appliances while fellow contestants are trying to sabotage her is the least of Peony's worries. After clashing with fellow contestant, the mysterious ly brooding Neputina, the two bond over Peony's cupcakes. But, when Peony asks Neptunia out on a date then doesn't show, she suspects something sinister. And she's right! Peony has been kidnapped and sent to compete on Cannibal Coliseum, a cooking competition where the loser gets cooked. Will she survive to cook another day?
 
Illustrations: Riess's illustrations are fantastic! As someone who consumes cooking competition shows voraciously, I was paying close attention to the cooks contestants presented and Riess definitely delivers the goods - even if I don't know what those goods are. The outer space world Riess creates feels unfamiliar and a bit disconcerting, which works very well for the story. The aliens she creates have some human traits but are also very, well, alien. And, while Riess's illustrations are completely engaging, I especially loved the generous bonus content that included more amazing drawings of space food and a "what if" where Riess rendered the characters from Space Battle Lunchtime AS CATS!
Why Read? Why Buy?: You won't find anything like this anywhere. It's rare to find a novel that features a cooking competition (don't miss Charise Mericle Harper's Next Best Junior Chef Trilogy) let alone a graphic novel series. And, this one has the added interest of a science fiction element. Also, Riess is a great story teller. The story moves at a fast pace and the suspense is intense, but the characters are all interesting and you want to spend more time with them. And reread the books. Riess's creativity is bursting off the page and I have no doubt it will inspire readers to cook, or draw or write.
All 8 covers in the Space Battle Lunchtime series
Volume 1 = 1 - 4 / Volume 2 = 5 - 8

How to be Peony!!!

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