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Hey guys it’s Sam, and welcome to another episode of Game Face! Now take Street Fighter IV, MK 2011MK vs DCU, and all of the DC Universe characters you can think of, and puree it all in the most pretentious blender you can find at your local supermarket. Pour it in the most posh glass you can find in your house and garnish with a curly straw, and you have Injustice Gods Among Us. This fighting game from the makers of the latest Mortal Kombat game pits the heroes and villains of the DC Universe against one another, but it goes far beyond just over-the-top action.

STORY

The game’s plot is the size of a doorstop, and there’s a lot to be understood to fully grasp the meaning of the game. Heck, the entire thing takes place in a parallel universe! It all starts when Joker dastardly and maliciously deceives Superman into believing his wife Lois Lane is a villain named Doomsday, causing him to kill both her and her unborn son who she was apparently preggers with. Not only that, but Kal-El ends up destroying the rest of Metropolis in a single nuclear boom! (Apparently the nuclear bomb was connected with Lois’ heartbeat. What.) Overcome with guilt and fueled by rage, Superman does the one thing Batman wouldn’t–straight up murder Joker in cold blood!

But the Man of Steel will never forgive himself for what Joker made him do, so he seizes the control of several planets across the globe, establishing a new world order as the High Councilor for the lone goal of world peace. Sounds corny, doesn’t it? But if you aren’t with Superman, you sure as heck are against him. The heroes of the earth, from Aquaman to Wonder Woman, are faced with a choice between Superman’s Regime or Batman’s Insurgency. War ends up breaking out between the forces, one that’ll threaten the survival of all of mankind. 

I’m sorry, I can’t type that with a straight face. mrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreen

I mean, seriously, a bomb linked with a human’s heartbeat? Injustice‘s story really starts to cave in on itself just to find reasons why a pair of heroes should be beating the crap out of each other.

GAMEPLAY

The best way to begin playing the game is to check out its tutorial, which shows you pretty much everything you need to know about the game, from special moves to bounce cancels. Now once you put that to use, you’ll see the same fighting style of Mortal Kombat 2011–well, actually, they’re the exact same controls. Heck, there are even some moves straight out of X-Ray Mode! However, what makes the game the most unique from MK 2011 is its interactive fighting style; “the world is your weapon,” says the back of the game case. And indeed it is; for example, in the Batcave someone can send you hurtling into the Bat Computer, or press a nearby button to blast you with rockets. Or in Atlantis, someone can turn a valve and blast you with an unblockable burst of water. However, many of the game’s heavier-built players can destroy these helpful objects almost effortlessly. A stone tablet that Batman can use as a jumping pad, Superman will simply crush. This will definitely be the birth of many Injustice trolls.

Injustice also has “level transitions”, which you can perform on characters by doing a select attack near one of a level’s ends. Your opponent will be painfully sent to the lower level, and if you choose you can painfully send them back to the upper level. However, while the game’s transitions can be over-the-top, the game’s laws of physics are very lenient and unrealistic (but still over-the-top). You can take a good long fall through several building floors, get hurtled into space, be inside a crashing helicopter, and more. And you’ll surely survive through all of it like it’s nothing.

The game is also unique for its Character Powers: whether it’s flight, healing, or just a temporary strength boost, these Powers are exclusive to each character. Another new part of the game is the Clashes: it can immediately interrupt a combo, allowing both players to secretly gamble some or all of their super meter (which can be saved up to perform a Super Move). It is only available when its starter has at least half of their meter full, and is only available once. There are also no rounds in Injustice–just two health bars. If one player has both of their bars emptied, the match automatically ends and the other player is declared the winner. The matches are also timed, and I’m not a fan of timed matches. I like Super Street Fighter IV, where you can set match times to infinite.

But hey, at least Injustice gives you a quick reference of your special moves whenever you pause.

EXTRAS

Winning matches will increase your XP, and enough XP allows you to level up, unlocking content from music to concept art. And if you aren’t fighting, you could take a visit to STAR Labs to do character-specific missions that I have yet to unearth. If that wasn’t enough, you could waste a couple of minutes customizing your “hero card” and your “portrait” that comes with your Injustice in-game account. Besides that there are some half-decent mini games: shoot arrows from Green Arrow’s POV, use your eye lasers to destroy entire cars as Superman, the list goes on. However, I don’t enjoy how Superman is willingly incinerating vehicles with people inside. I mean, whatever happened to defending the world?

Oh, and also, if you consider a spinoff comic series as an extra, I should note the Injustice comic by Tom Taylor and Jheremy Raapack, as well as the Injustice action figure line.

LASTING APPEAL

In the end, Injustice Gods Among Us is a shockingly derivative fighting game that doubles as a big love letter to the fan base of the DC Universe, fueled by enjoyable over-the-top action and a thin story that most people will give no heed. (And it should stay that way.)

FINAL SCORE: ★★★

IF YOU LIKED THAT, CHECK OUT:

(Click on the pictures to be transported to their GameStop articles!)







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Well, that was fun! Be sure to tune in next Friday for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak! Oh, and have a radical summer!

Stay classy,

~S~ 😎

Video of the Week: “About Pogo (Nick Bertke)” by Fagottron aka Pogo. You’ve seen some of his amazing videos since they’ve been past Videos of the Week, but learn the story of Pogo in just 9 minutes!

“I love making music. I think it’s the ultimate way to express myself. I can’t imagine how else I would connect with myself and the world around me.” (Poetry.)

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I’ve been a diehard for Cartoon Network as long as I can remember, ever since it introduced one of the biggest pieces of my brain’s nostalgia center–Tom & Jerry. When I don’t have anything to catch up with, or I do but I’m just kinda procrastinating, I usually spend my time playing their site’s games. You already know that I have some major beef with the Adventure Time games (excluding Jumping Finn, which is actually good), strong faith with the Reg Show games, and keen interests in the Gumball games. Well, take these three shows and a whole lot more, convert them to 3D, and cram them into one game. What do you get? No, not Formula Cartoon. You get this.

Finn, Dexter, and Four-Arms fight the beasts of botany in “the Field”.

FusionFall Heroes is the sequel to the well-renowned FusionFall Universe which Cartoon Network introduced back in 2009. Instead of an open-world experience where you could interact with some of your favorite characters, this is a nonstop action RPG very similar to DOTA. In FFH, you play characters such as Finn and Mordecai, and you get automatically sent into a level. Each level is different–you could be fighting the Tech Queen, while your friend could be fighting the Graveworm. Before you fight the levels’ bosses, you must go through about four waves of smaller enemies. I’ve classified my enemies into two categories:

  • The enemies that die with one hit, also known as the petite enemies
  • The enemies that take a round of hits to die, also known as the buff enemies

Anyway, if you’re not a very skilled fighter and you get major health blows, you’re in luck. At your side are medical chests (marked with red crosses) that have health boosters in the forms of breakfast foods like jellied toast, cereal, and pancakes. Also, at your side are very special chests (marked with the infinity sign) that offer special powers once opened. I call it Infinity Power since I really don’t know what the official name is. Once you consume the IP, a five-bar gauge next to your health fills. Once at least one bar is full, you can right-click to perform a special attack that takes away -266 of the enemy’s damage. If you die, you don’t need to restart your fight–you respawn automatically, which saves me a lot of stress and fury. Furthermore, there are these red barrels that explode a few seconds after being hit, which is an easy way to wipe out a pack of petites.

At the in-game store, you can also buy new characters in the forms of “eggs” using points that you receive after a fight.

Right now I’m kicking butt as Finn, and my gamer alias is “Major Zelda”. So if you see that name anywhere while you’re playing FFH, think of me. Anyway, I got hooked onto the game a few weeks ago, the first time I played it. I was bored out of my mind and probably killed an hour or so playing Heroes. What made me so addicted to the game, kept me going back for more, was that it so easy to master. A simple click of the mouse equals a swing of the sword, and that’s probably all you need to know besides that special attack. I love how something new pops up every time I play, and they always have the greatest and most unique boss fights. Albeit they’re not very hard boss fights (I mowed through two in my first sitting), they always relate to the environment you’re fighting in. For example, if you’re fighting monsters made out of auto parts in a junkyard, you’re gonna get a monster made out of cars. Most specifically, the Truckosaurus Rex. Furthermore, if you’re fighting monsters made of electronic parts in a fancy lab, you’re gonna get a giant electronic monster made of enough energy to run a parking lot of Nissan Leaves. Most specifically, the Tech Queen. I also appreciate the 3D techniques that were transcribed from Formula Cartoon.

However, its tendency to repeat levels is very annoying, and the first time I played I thought it was because I hadn’t saved. Then I realized you couldn’t save. Anyway, if I defeat the Tech Queen once, I’m not interested in defeating her five more times. Also, the game’s excitement does quickly wear off, and you find yourself very bored instead of very thrilled. Also, the game does lag sometime on me, which is no fun for an RPGamer. The game’s solo content does get a bit rusty after awhile, but it does offers a party co-op mode that I haven’t tried yet, since I have no friends to co-op with.

Well, let’s not tell sob stories and get to our chart.

 THE GOOD

  • Immersive gameplay
  • Gorgeous 3D environments ala Formula Cartoon
  • No-brainer controls
  • Medical and Infinity Chests serve as helpful aid kits
  • Ingenious boss fights

THE BAD

  • Gets tedious and boring after a while
  • Cantankerous tendency to repeat fights
  • Annoying lags that slow down battle paces
  • Offers a middling amount of content in solo mode

FINAL CONSENSUSFusionFall Heroes is very addictive and unparalleled for a Cartoon Network title, but for any ordinary browser-based RPG it has very insipid flaws such as fight repeats, lags, and conspicuous tedium. However, the game does offer enough to have you coming back for more, which says something.

FINAL SCORE: 8.3/10 (great)

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Well, with all that aside, make sure to subscribe if you’re new, and don’t forget–press the like button. Come back next Monday for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy America,

~S~ 😎

Video of the Week: Pogo already gave us not one but two Videos of the Week last time (“Living Island” and “Roarcraft“), so it shouldn’t be a surprise I found something really good this week. This video was the third one Pogo ever released, and it was actually put up back in May 2008. It’s not really a remix of anything–it’s Bertke’s first original song. It’s called “SplurgenShitter”, and if you have any questions about the name, don’t ask me because I don’t know. Don’t ask Bertke, because he won’t tell you. Besides, it got paired up with footage of Nick dancing around wearing a Darth Vader mask and it has 1.1 million hits. Quality Internet video!

(You could also find a 4-minute version of the song on Weave and Wish, an EP Bertke released in 2009.)

Our Bonus Video of the Week is a Pogo remix of Lord of the Rings (the Frodo era, not the Bilbo era) that came out in March 2011 and has 1.9 million hits. Someone actually had the nerve to role-play as Frodo, comment on the video, and 3 weeks later it got 187 likes. A true quality Internet video.



Hey guys it’s Sam. Back last year I made a post where the good ole Bookie made a post summing up all of the good books that were coming out that year. Now, I’m here to bring it again, and now you won’t have to wait for most of the novels–they will most likely already be out, and I want to introduce my comrades to some new books. So for now, enjoy this delicious smoothie of chopped, crunched, and blended book-world news of what’s cooking this year.

Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)

I’m a huge fan of fast-paced sci-fi thriller novels like Maximum Ride and Witch & Wizard so I think I’d dig this one. This one came out back in February, so it’s gotten lots of time to sink into the mainstream quicksand. You could call this the novelization of Inception if you wanted to, but the latest novel from young adult author Kiersten White really messes with your mind. Mind Games (or Sister Assassin for non-Americans) is a fast-paced psychological thriller starring Fia, whose first impulse to go with her gut is always correct. Annie, Fia’s sister, is sightless to her surrounding world–she only opens her eyes when her mind whizzes with odd visions of the future. The two sisters are taken into a school that uses superhuman females as weapons of corporate espionage, where they must decide repeatedly to use their strange abilities in horrific ways or to risk their lives and fight the system–no matter what the cost.

Young-adult authors might remember Kiersten White as the author of Paranormalcy, an urban fantasy trilogy that introduced her to the world of books and turned her into a NY Times bestselling author. The final novel, Endlessly (how ironic), concluded the saga last year and White is currently making plans for a Paranormalcy film. MTV Music Video Award-winning director Ray Kay is set to direct the movie.

The book received mixed reviews. High praise was given for its spy-fi elements and well-suited ending, but high criticism was given for pretty much everything else, most notably the plain characterization.

Mila 2.0 (MILA 2.0, #1)

Speaking of sci-fi thriller, that brings us to our next novel which came out back in March. In the writing debut of Debra Driza, Mila 2.0, the titular character lives with her mom in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her harrowing past of being created in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do the humanly impossible. But when Mila discovers her shocking secret, she must flee. Flee from the dangerous operatives who want her dead because she knows too much. Flee from the mysterious group that wants to capture her and unlock her tech. But Mila’s hidden powers will surprise you (and her), and they might just save her life. Her artificially intelligent life.

Mila 2.0 is just the start. Driza plans on making two more books starring Mila to form a Mila 2.0 trilogy. Goodreads described the book as “the first book in a Bourne Identity-style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human.” They recommended the novel for fans of I Am Number Four, and said that the book’s gripping ending would pave the way for Mila’s second adventure and have readers hungry for more. I guess there really was more to Mila than met my eyes.

The book received generally positive reviews. Its fast-paced action and heart-racing adrenaline rushes were lauded, but its romance overemphasis and lack of emotional connections were noted as something that could’ve been finessed.

Take Timmy Failure, the clueless and confident CEO of the best detective agency in the nation town. Throw in his partner, an imaginary friend in the form of a polar bear named Total. Throw in Timmy’s mom’s Segway the Failuremobile, and what you have is Total Failure Incorporated, a global enterprise designed to make Timmy wealthy enough to prevent his mom from stressing over bills. But of course, his plan does not include the 4′-tall lady who we shall call She Who Must Not Be Named. Nor does it include Rollo Tookus, who cannot carry out a super-easy spy mission due to his obsession with getting into “Stanfurd”. Stephan Pastis makes a stunning and charming departure from Pearls Before Swine with Timmy Failure: Mistakes Are Made, “the kids’ comedy of the year”. Here are a couple notable blurbs that would look great on the back of the book:

“Timmy Failure is a winner!” – Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

“Seldom has failure been so likable–or funny.” – Wall Street Journal

“…a great story starring an unforgettable protagonist whose unorthodox approach to detective work (and world domination) will have readers in stitches.” – Lincoln Peirce, author of Big Nate

“Readers should be simultaneously amused and touched by this quirky antihero.” – Booklist

“Pastis has assembled an eccentric and funny cast (running gags revolve around Total’s voracious appetite and a librarian who looks like one of the Hell’s Angels), yet there are also touching interactions to be found…” – Publishers Weekly

Timmy Failure received generally positive reviews. Its well-written humor and charm factors were positively recognized by critics, but some flat characterization and peculiar usage of archaic references were also dissected.

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)

You may recognize Marissa Meyer as the unique author of the sci-fi romance novel Cinder (the start of the Lunar Chronicles), which was one of Indie-Bound’s Kids Next List picks for last winter. But the story of our favorite cyborg heroine is not yet over, as her story continues into Scarlet, the thrilling sequel which came out in February. Now after discovering a shocking secret, Cindy’s trying to break out of the clutches of prison in New Beijing (this was after World War IV), but she’ll be the most-wanted fugitive of the Commonwealth even if she succeeds. Halfway around the Earth, Scarlet Benoit has a missing grandma. It turns out there’s a lot Scarlet doesn’t know about Grandma B, nor of the grim danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet meets a street fighter named Wolf who may or may not have the whereabouts of Scarlet’s grandma, she is reluctant to believe Wolf. However, the two are drawn together in some sort of relationship. After Scarlet and Wolf solve one mystery, they run into another when they come across Cindy herself. Now this misfit trio must stay one step ahead Queen Levana, female ruler of the moon colony Luna. That introduces the book’s side plot, where she is attempting to make Kai (the prince of New Beijing) give into his pressures of marrying Levana or evoking a World War V.

In spite of its slow start, the novel received critical acclaim for its deep and complex story, a shrewd and surprising backstory, and impeccable fairy-tale weaving that made it impossible for most people to put Scarlet down. People are still coming up with ideas of how the brand new characters could play vital roles in the final half of the four-part Lunar Chronicles.

Unremembered (Unremembered, #1)

Jessica Brody began writing and “publishing” novels at the age of seven, using materials like cardboard and electrical tape to turn her into an amateur bookbinder. She is no stranger to the world of young adult books–she’s written three already–but this story is her most stellar and unorthodox departure yet. In Unremembered, the beginning of Brody’s new sci-fi saga, a flight courtesy of Freedom Airlines ends horribly and unexpectedly with a crash over the Pacific. No one ever suspected to find survivors among the wreck, and that’s why the sole survivor of the crash has made global headlines. That survivor was 16-year old Seraphina. However, her body shows no signs of the crash, but here’s the kicker–she doesn’t remember boarding the plane. In fact, she doesn’t remember anything before the crash, let alone at all. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest, nor can anyone locate her DNA or fingerprints in a single database on Earth. As this astray amnesiac attempts to piece together her empty past, befuddled by a world she doesn’t know and an ominous threat she can’t remember, she discovers an odd boy who claims to have known her before the crash. A boy who claims they were in a relationship. Sera must decide whether or not this boy can be trusted, and if he can protect her from those who have been making her forget.

It turns out you really can’t judge a book by the cover, as Unremembered turned out with very mixed reception. People praised it for having the elements of a sci-fi gem, but criticized it for being an orthodox story that brought nothing unique to the action-thriller genre,  and how its intellectual properties (planning and thoughts) were in over their heads. Oh, and it came out in March.

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

If you’re like me, you’re very familiar with the fantasy subgenre of “fractured fairy tale”. These kinds of books put twists on classic fairy tales and mend interesting and unexpected worlds around them, taking the original stories to whole ‘nother levels. Examples include Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted, and Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm/In A Glass Grimmly. Coincidentally, this story was made for fans of those books. Now rising fantasy star Liesl Shurtliff has given a twist on a classic Grimm story: Rump. This came out just a couple of weeks ago, so it’s probably ankle-deep in the mainstream quicksand. Now, Rump isn’t just short for Rumpelstiltskin–in a magic kingdom where names are destinies, he literally is the rump of everyone’s jokes. But his luck changes when he finds an archaic spinning wheel–he discovers he can spin straw into gold. His best friend whom we’ll call Red (hint hint) warns him of the magic’s darkest dangers, and she’s right. With each spun thread, Rump obliviously weaves himself deeper and deeper into a curse. To break the curse, he must go on a dangerous quest and fight off pixies, trolls, poisonous apples, and a maliciously foolish queen.

Rump got positive reception for having the fun side that most stories fail to have, full of delightful adventures and hidden messages such as greed and friendship.

Pulse (Pulse, #1)

From the look of this cover, you may already tell this has something to do with sci-fi. Well, if you guessed that, you’re right. This is indeed a sci-fi story called Pulse from the author of Skeleton Creek, which came out in February. 38 years from now, the world is still recognizable. No world wars, no apocalypse, no Republics or Capitols–I’m assuming. Well, the country has been split into two “super States” (what.), and protagonist Faith Daniels attends what is little more than a teenage daycare. In the future, select teens have “pulses” which grant them with the power to move things with their minds. In other words, they’re telekinetic. Faith discovers that she has a pulse with the help of a mysterious classmate named Dylan. Faith uses her powers against telekinetic masters so powerful they could pancake their enemies using uprooted street lights and shifted boulders. But even with a pulse, the mind can be hard to control. So can the heart. If Faith and Dylan want to combine forces and save the world of the future, she must harness both and discover that real power comes from within.

Reception for Pulse was mixed to negative. Its unexplained future was heavily panned alongside its conspicuous lack of action-packed adventure, plus its underwhelming characters and relationships and a greatly deceiving synopsis. In fact, here’s how one Goodreads user put it: “…almost non-existent adventure (unless you consider moving cups with your mind adventure), poor and mostly unlikable and under-developed characters and extremely unhealthy relationships.” Wow, is a story about telekinesis and saving the world that bad?

Also, the finale for Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning Seeds of America trilogy (started by Chains and continued by Forge) is forthcoming. It’s going to be called Ashes, and the plot is as of now unknown. The book may be releasing this year as opposed to 2014, but I guess we need to stay tuned for those news.

Ah, finally. We’ve saved the best for last. People who mowed through the Hunger Games trilogy and were starving for more turned Veronica Roth’s Divergent into an award-winning NY Times bestseller. When the book’s sequel Insurgent came out, people turned that into yet another award-winning bestseller. The two books became so successful that Roth is currently planning for a Divergent movie! (Check her Twotter feed to stay tuned. Yeah, I did that on purpose.) But now, after months of theories and guesses, Roth’s epic finale to her trilogy is coming this October–Allegiant. Yeah, Roth sarcastically gave the book the name of Detergent, but some people thought it was called Convergent, and that’s how this came up:

Anyway, check out Amazon’s and Goodreads’ summary to the explosive end to Roth’s smashing saga. (Oh, like my amazing alliteration?)

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Stay tuned and stay hungry for Allegiant when it hits stores October 22. But for now, here’s a link to Roth’s Twotter:

https://twitter.com/VeronicaRoth

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That was fun! If you plan on reading any of my recommended books, post it in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe if you’re new, and don’t forget–press the like button. Now just stay tuned until next time to get more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy America,

~S~ 😎

Video of the Week: If you’ve stuck with me long enough, you probably know who Nick Bertke is. He’s the greatest mixer of all time, that’s who he is. He goes under the stage name Pogo (his channel’s called “Fagottron”), and although he has less than 250,000 subs, his videos have gotten millions of hits and millions of fans for his unique remixes of movies and TV shows. His best works include remixes of Harry PotterMary PoppinsAlice in Wonderland (1951), and Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs. Today’s video of the week is a Pogo remix from two years ago with nearly 750,000 hits. It’s a remix of HR Pufnstuf. If you don’t know what that is, sit back and enjoy this lesson.

Back in the 60s, there were these people named Sid & Marty Krofft. They made a show called HR Pufnstuf, which ran in 1969 on NBC. Yes, I said NBC. However, the show was so successful it stayed on the Saturday morning schedule until 1972. The show’s about a boy named Jimmy who takes his magic flute named Freddy and rides a boat to Living Island, where everything from clocks to houses are anthropomorphic. The island’s mayor is a dragon whom is the title character of the show, who takes Jimmy in to protect him from the show’s antagonist Witchiepoo. In a nutshell, it’s basically a psychedelic Sesame Street.

Because I love you guys so much, here’s the Bonus Video of the Week. It’s another Pogo remix, but you should be able to tell what got remixed from the name of the video.

Sam out.



I’ve already reviewed the first two novels in James Patterson’s bestselling Middle School series starring young troublemaker Rafe Khatchadorian. Now for some “I-don’t-mean-to-brag-but” fun facts. For his work, Patterson became the 2010 Children’s Choice Book Awards Author of the Year, and he received more than than 15,000 votes in a category shared with fellow middle-grade authors like Carl Hiaasen and Rick Riordan. His Witch & Wizard series was introduced to the biggest launch of a young-reader series in history, surpassing sales of the first Twilight, the first Wimpy Kid, and The Lightning Thief. Last year JP sold more books than Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, and John Grisham combined. He’s grossed over $3 billion in global sales, which is higher than the theatrical gross of Avatar–and that’s the highest-grossing movie ever! But Patterson stayed humble with his achievements, and last December–a mere two weeks before Christmas Eve 2012–he decided to shake things up. He released a brand new realistic fiction story that didn’t star Rafe. Yep, he incorporated an entirely new universe and one of the most unique plots I’ve ever seen. JP’s new book is totally funny–in fact, it’s so funny it even has it in the name.

What I consider to be the spiritual successor to JP’s Middle School series, I Funny is a unique story by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, who he also worked with for Armageddon, a novel in JP’s Daniel X series. This book centers on Jamie Grimm, a young lad about Rafe’s age who lives in Long Island, CA–more specifically, at Long Beach. He is an aspiring stand-up comic who’s been studying the techniques of classic comedians from Homer Simpson to George Carlin and probably every comic in between. His uncle Frankie runs a local diner (kind of like Swifty’s Diner, the place Rafe’s mom works), and he has a few pals at school–Pierce, Gaynor, Gilda, and Suzie (aka “Cool Girl”). But however, just like Rafe’s relationship with Miller the Killer, Jamie’s got a big bully on his back–Stevie Kosgrov, Long Beach’s bully of the year 3 years straight. However, what’s worse about Stevie is that he’s–er, for the sake of spoilers, I’ll just skip that one.

Anyway, Jamie lives with his adoptive family which he dubbed “the Smileys”–ironically, they haven’t cracked a grin in who knows how long. This is a perfect audience for Jamie’s jokes, because if he can get them to laugh, he can get anyone to. In fact, he tries out his jokes on everyone from his classmates to the customers at Frankie’s diner! Jamie has hopes of entering and maybe even winning the Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic contest. But when he goes up in front of an audience for the first time, the following events change his life forever–the most essential being meeting the girl of his dreams. Also, what makes Jamie such a character to root for is that he can’t walk, and takes his wheelchair everywhere he goes. Now, who can’t feel sympathy for that?

PRESENTATION: I Funny delivers an ingenious balance of humor and drama, the same mix that made Rafe’s first adventure a real home run. However, what makes this mix a bit more unique is that the humor and drama come in bundles, the humor is more genuine and easy to “get” (although some readers who are familiar with the comics may know some of the jokes). The drama is raw and emotional, and a few times in the story my inner self actually cried. Rarely in a book do I cry while reading it. Albeit Laura Park, JP’s long-time illustrator, draws the detailed pictures of the story, she gives I Funny its own special something, making pictures look more polished and realistic. (10/10)

STORY: Jamie tells his story with realism and cracks some jokes or introduces some scenic situations that actually make a story a bit “mushy”, just like Rafe would. However, aside from humor and drama, Jamie tells a very down-to-earth story that incorporates real-life things like bullying, friendship, a first love, and broken hearts. Jamie is a character most readers would root for, especially after all you see him go through in the book. Connections between characters are strong as well. However, there’s one thing that won’t make me give I Funny a perfect score in this category–Jamie uses Rafe’s same “fake reality” techniques to try and zest up the story. In this case, Jamie believes that most of the Long Beach community is made up of zombies, but they are shown to be more funny than freaky. The book feels a lot like Rafe had helped Jamie write it–for better and for worse. (9/10)

FUN: It’s entertaining to watch Jamie spin his tale in a way that tons of authors have done, but it’s still nonetheless very unique. It’s intriguing to picture the events that occur in the book from the factual to the fictional, and the vivid imagery–if you saw my last JGB 2.0, you’d know that was almost the exact same stanza I used for Rafe’s second adventure. I Funny and Get Me Out of Here share lots of the same jokes, sequences, and connections, which says something if JP wanted this book to stand out more. However, this book does lots of media referencing–comics like Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, Yakov Smirnoff, Steve Martin, Steven Wright, and Kevin James. Speaking of Kevin James, Jamie also references his star role in Paul Blart: Mall Cop several times. References to KGB, acme (a staple in 20th century comedy like Looney Tunes), Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Penn Station, The Brady BunchHarry Potter, and much more. Hey–I think all that referencing just won this book its half of a point back.  (10/10)

STYLE: Time for some restating. The humor and drama come in bundles, the humor is more genuine and easy to “get” (although some readers who are familiar with the comics may know some of the jokes). The drama is raw and emotional, and a few times in the story my inner self actually cried. Rarely in a book do I cry while reading it. Albeit Laura Park, JP’s long-time illustrator, draws the detailed pictures of the story, she gives I Funny its own special something, making pictures look more polished and realistic. (10/10)

QUANTITY/QUALITY: I Funny has a great story to tell, and it took 69 chapters to tell it! In fact, the book begins with Jamie choking onstage (forgetting his setups and such), and then it flashes back a while. JP managed to tell enough story and pack in enough element, characterization and such, to meet up to that point in the book, which actually doesn’t come until very late. It’s great how you get to know people like Pierce, Gaynor, Gilda, and Cool Girl, and how they interact with Jamie. How their relationship with him changes as the book progresses and you begin to relate to Jamie more. This is the kind of feeling that I got when I reached the dramatic climax of Middle School, Worst Years of My Life where everything kinda reached its summit. (10/10)

FINAL VERDICTI Funny packs the same wallops of humor and drama that Rafe would, but the humor is more authentic and the drama is more raw and tearjerking–never has Patterson told such a dynamic story that has the powerful plot lines that really make this  the third hit of JP’s threepeat. (10/10)

FINAL SCORE59 out of 60 –> 98% –> A+

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Check out some vids from JP’s official YouTube channel!

Ah, what a day. Well, make sure to tune in next week for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy America,

~S~ 😎

Videos of the Week: Check out these mind-blowing Nick mixes from my ole buddy Nick Bertke, aka “Pogo”. For y’all who don’t know who he is, he is literally the greatest mashup artist on Earth. He’s made groundbreaking remixes of Harry PotterDexterUpToy StoryMonsters, IncWilly Wonka and the Chocolate FactoryMary PoppinsSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the list goes on folks. Tragically, last Thursday Nick put up a 3-minute video explaining how and why he is no longer allowed to enter the USA for the next decade. I mean, the poor lad got sent to the big house for 3 weeks! Never would I think of Pogo as an inmate. Anyway, here’s the video…

…and to cheer you up, here are two amazing Pogo mixes you can jam to. The first one is an iCarly remix, made in honor of the series ending after five years of being one of Nick’s greatest hits. The music in the mix ranges from all of the show’s seasons, and you may be able to pick out some episodes. The second one is a SpongeBob remix, which also ranges from all of the show’s seasons, and you may also be able to pick out some episodes. ENJOY!