Book Review: Crystal Cadets by Anne Toole, Katie O'Neil, Paulina Ganucheau

Crystal Cadets is a graphic novel written by Anne Toole and illustrated by Katie O'Neill and Paulina Ganucheau. Zoe has always felt out of place; her foster parents are great and all, but she's long felt like something was missing. That is, of course, until she discovers a mysterious gem left to her by her birth mother and her whole universe gets flipped around! When the crystal grants Zoe mysterious powers of light she becomes the Diamond Cadet, and she's not the only one; suddenly she's meeting new friends who shoot flames and glowing green arrows. It's all fun at first, but when The Darkness possesses Zoe's foster parents her only choice is to join this wild group of action-hero girls, traveling the globe to defeat The Darkness and find a cure! 

The artwork was cute, but I felt it was a little inconsistent. I also felt like there were some jumps in the story that just did not make sense, but I think that was from the panel layout and rushed feel to the action more than anything else.  I never really felt like I got to understand any of the girls or the deeper mythology behind how all this happens. Motivation, emotion, and personality for the heroes and villains seem o be lacking for the most part, with occasional hints that left me feeling that something was missing. I feel like it was aiming for a Steven’s Universe or Sailor Moon type of vibe, but since I never had a chance to really get invested in individual characters or the larger picture that it just fell a little flat.

Crystal Cadets is a charming read with big potential, but I think it fell a little flat. Middle grade readers that are big fans of mystical girl hero series like Sailor Moon might enjoy the read, but it is not one I would highly recommend.
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