At the beginning of October, I felt like I had slowly started to get into a reading slump. And last week, it hit me in full force. I just wasn’t super motivated to read – but, one of the best ways for me to get out of a reading slump is to pick up a few graphic novels and I had the great opportunity to receive Home Time Vol 1 and Vol 2 in exchange for an honest review! Huge thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for sending the digital copies and also sending me a beautiful and very heavy hardcover copy of Home Time Vol 2! This middle grade graphic novel series helped me get through this recent slump and I’m happy to say that I did adore these books quite a bit.
Let’s get onto my review!
The last school bell has rung and it’s finally HOME TIME! Even though they’re twins, Lilly and David don’t agree on much… except that the last summer before high school is the perfect time for relaxing with friends. But their plans for sleepovers, fantasy games, and romance are thrown out the window when the whole gang falls into a river and wakes up in a village of fantastic creatures. Hailed as magical spirits and attacked by lizards, these kids must find their way home — if they don’t throttle each other first.
Home Time Vol 1:
Home Time Vol 2:
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when picking up these books. I usually don’t read many middle-grade books but I picked them up with an open mind and I was quite surprised as to how much I enjoyed them. Although these are two volumes, my review is kind of combined?
I won’t spoil anything as per usual but basically, Home Time is about a group of close-knit primary school friends who have just finished their last day of primary school. It’s a big change and a bittersweet moment when not all of them are going to the same high school. However, on their way to their honorary sleepover, they fall into a river and wake up in a strange land lead by cute little creatures called Peaches who praise them as magical spirits with powers. Together they must find a way to get back home with the help of the Peaches if they are willing to give it.
The first thing that struck me as I read the first volume was how nostalgic this felt for me. I can remember that time in my life when I was making the biggest change of moving from primary to secondary school. It’s like a whole new life and the characters felt so genuine in how they were feeling about this change. It was interesting to see their dynamics and the school crushes – not to mention that all the Australian primary school references were not cringy at all which is a huge plus. I tend to find Australian-based novels to be so over the top but this was like pure nostalgia.
As the kids wake up in this strange new world, it was interesting how naturally confused I was as a reader, just as much as they were. I liked that I felt so immersed in the story and although I didn’t know all the characters very well, they each had their own dedicated ‘chapters’ or ‘sections’ in the volume so that I could get to know them better. What was most surprising is that the art style changed every time we got a new point of view! It was almost a relief because I was not a fan of the first art style but quickly found my favourites and it motivated me to keep reading even more. I am able to share some sample pages below too so that you can have a look at how different the styles actually change:
I really liked the ‘game’ art style, it was so cute and comical. I liked how each character went through very realistic themes, even if it seemed like constant bickering; it felt like they all had realistic relationships with each other. The world-building was also quite extensive.
One of the reasons why I didn’t rate the first volume very high was that the story itself seemed to drag on a bit. The plot lost a little momentum about halfway through and I was kind of confused for the most part but still enjoying the illustrations. It also ended on a cliffhanger, which I wasn’t a fan of in the context that this would be targeted at a middle grade audience and graphic novels like these do take some time to create. I would’ve been really mad if I didn’t have a copy of the second volume right there waiting for me. The ending of the first volume also got a bit dark and abstract; I think this was approached better in the second volume.
I personally preferred the second over the first; and loved that both also had little extra tidbits like journal entries and polaroids in between chapters of the book. It added an extra behind-the-scenes look at the kids, and how they’re actually coping in this brand new, unprecedented world. It also gave us HEAPS of info on the Peaches, their life and more that really added to the world-building.
The second volume had a much more solid plot and because we were already familiar with all the kids, it really made the themes of growing up or ‘coming of age’ hit home. The art style was even better and I could really appreciate all the sections we got to see and read. I was constantly enamoured by my favourite art styles and sometimes couldn’t read fast enough because of how immersed and entranced I was by the story. I only wish that I could’ve connected a bit more to each individual character and gotten to understand the magic system of the world a bit better.
Overall, this was such a weird and fun graphic novel series. I don’t know whether it is continuing, I certainly wouldn’t mind getting more content! ~ but the Home Time Vol 2 (which is out now!) was definitely worth the wait after 3 years since Home Time Vol. 1.
Do you read middle grade graphic novels much? What did you think of the art style in those sample pages? Campbell Whyte is such an amazing artist for producing all of them, and there are more than 3!
Until next time,