- Craig Graziano
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is author Prudence Shen's laser-guided, satirical commentary on a clash of the cliques that has the potential to destroy friendships, dreams, and dozens of deadly, armored robots.
Hollow Ridge High School is dealing with the fight of the century. In this corner we have the cheerleadering squad. Popular, gorgeous and fierce, these ladies are looking for some brand-new uniforms. Looking for funds throughout the school, merciless head cheerleader Holly has set her sights on one club's unused budget.
In the other corner is the robotics club. Led by their neurotic but clever president Nate, these geeks are not going down without a fight.
Stuck in the middle of this struggle is poor Charlie, captain of the basketball team. His only crime is being the ex-boyfriend of Holly and Nate's best friend.
How does a popular athlete become so chummy with a proud nerd? Their story goes back to the days of childhood, before such labels ever applied to them. Charlie has been signed up by the cheerleaders to run against Nate for Student Body President.
Whoever wins will be able to decide where the money goes, but Charlie wants no part of it. Despite this lack of interest in running, a popular athlete is bound to crush uncharismatic Nate. That is, unless the race gets very, very dirty.
Out of desperation, Nate sets to scheming one of the ugliest political campaigns in Hollow Ridge history. Soon, embarrassing childhood photos and weed killer become weapons of propaganda and no one is safe.
When their principal puts a stop to the mayhem, both the cheerleading squad and the robotics club end up losing the money. And that's when Nate gets his craziest idea yet. If Holly will fund the robotics club out of her pocket, they all might win a fortune in prize money at this year's Robot Rumble. Such robotic warfare is not easy. They will need a chainsaw to do some damage, and they will need Charlie to keep the peace between the two clubs. Can he handle it?
Shen's first book is a clever satire on school social politics, on par with the great 80's movies of John Hughes. Artist Faith Erin Hicks brings a wonderful cartoony style with bold lines and a slight manga influence. Hicks has already proven her talent beautifully with last year's high school tale Friends with Boys, which she wrote as well. This new title further cements readers' appreciation of her visual abilities.
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong finds a great balance between the humor and pain of being in high school. It offers laughs but also focuses on issues such as divorce and alienation, and it is way cheaper than building your own killer robot. Read it soon!