Avatar: The Last Airbender | Smoke and Shadow (Part Three) created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, script by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru, lettering by Michael Heisler
Sibling rivalry threatens to destroy the Fire Nation when a frustrated Zuko reveals the kemurikage leader on the first page: “I know that’s you …!” But knowing doesn’t always mean fully comprehending the answers, especially when you’re forced to admit that your worst enemy is also a member of your own family.
Fighting one sister in order to recover another puts Zuko in an obviously precarious situation. He’s not exactly thinking as clearly as he could, and aims his discontented barbs at the people who can help him most. Thankfully, the bonds of true friendship can withstand a little strain.
As Zuko works hard to prove his leadership by keeping his nation safe, his staunchest supporters refuse to succumb to his angry, irrational declarations and follow their hearts (and heads) instead.
The final installment (for now) of this latest tri-part series from Gene Luen Yang – two-time National Book Award finalist and recently anointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature – is fast-paced entertainment with longer-lasting effects. Beyond the adventure, Yang explores difficult questions about protecting family and friends, challenging what one person is willing to sacrifice for another’s well-being. A daughter lies for her father, a son rejects his parent, one sibling hunts another, a father kidnaps his own child – and each finds sound justification for his and her actions. And what of the consequences …?
As always, you’ll find engaging excitement to the very last page, but a master storyteller like Yang is able to add something extra. Between right, wrong, and all the shades of uncertain, few easy answers are available here – and for that, you’ll absolutely be coming back for more.
Tidbit: Whaaaaaat?!! A Chinese New Super-Man? You betcha! While we can only hope that Yang’s Avatar stories continue for many more volumes to come, how can our hearts not be wildly thumping for this news?! Oh, the wait, the wait! Agonizing indeed!
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult