Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is the kind of comic John Hughes would have made. With quirky characters who have to cross the status-lines of high school cliques in order to save the day, witty dialogue, and a climax involving killer robots, Prudence Shen and FEH’s book has something for everyone.
You wouldn’t expect Nate and Charlie to be friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But they are friends, however unlikely — until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders, and the cheerleaders retaliate by making Charlie their figure-head in the ugliest class election campaign the school as ever seen. At stake? Student group funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms — but not both.
Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not! Nothing can possibly go wrong.
High school is a fertile ground for stories. The aforementioned Hughes made a career out of crafting stories set in high schools with characters who were relatable and situations which were just a touch exotic. From having crazy foreign exchange students living in your house and nerds borrowing your underwear, to five teens stuck in Saturday detention with a power-ad Principal watching over them, each movie rang true and could be enjoyed time and time again. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong uses the same technique. The characters in the book are relatable archetypes (nerds, jocks, cheerleaders) but the situation is just a bit exotic. Instead of rolling our collective eyes at it all, the accessibility of the character and the joy of seeing them fret and fight through the situation means that readers can enjoy the book over and over again.
With great characters it does not really matter what the situation is, put great characters in a room together and the scenes practically write themselves. From the mysterious twins to the militaristic cheer squad Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is full of great characters. And those great characters have some truly great scenes!
Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks put together a great story which flows effortlessly from scene to scene. The pacing is spot on and the dialogue rings true each time. It reminded me strongly of Scott Pilgrim in its ability to strike a balance between character development, humor, and action. Just when it seemed like things would go over the edge, Shen and Hicks reel it back in and keep everything together.
As always, Hicks’ art shines. She was the perfect choice for this book as her characters deliver on every page. From reaction shots, to action poses, emotions to exasperation, Hicks gives each character and each scene just the right amount of personality. Since so much of the book is about relationships, it is important that both the speaker and the listener (or the prankster and the victim, as the case may be) shine on each page. Hicks delivers time and time again.
For anyone who misses the teen comedies of John Hughes, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong scratches that itch. There are memorable characters, quotable lines, and entertaining twists. The only thing missing from Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is a killer soundtrack and an appearance by Molly Ringwold. But, given the talents of Shen and Hicks, those things can be overlooked.