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Yang, writer-artist of National Book Award finalist American Born Chinese, writes this magical-realist tale of Asian-American parental pressure and video-game escape, leaving the art to up-and-comer Pham. Dennis Ouyang struggles with the burden of his dead father's orders that he study hard, go to med school, and become a gastroenterologist. When Dennis, inspired by four mysterious angels, gives up his passion-video games-and buckles down to his studies, he befriends three fellow second-generation students and begins to make a place in med school. But a crisis in confidence reveals the true nature of his guardian angels, and the real source of his father's dreams for his only son. Pham's watercolors can be charming, but his primarily gray and brown palette gets visually monotonous; thankfully, his work increases in energy as the plot does. Yang's familiar story of immigrant striving and filial rebellion gets just enough juice from its connection to arcade culture. A bravura storytelling and visual twist near the end brings together the plot's several strands. A minor work from Yang, but a welcome introduction to Pham, whose own upcoming First Second graphic novel, Sumo, looks promising. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
In his new story, Yang explores the daunting pressure of parental expectation while still applying generous doses of video-game references and goofy humor. The fact that Dennis Ouyang is about as good a gamer as they come doesn't jive so well with his parents, who expect him to go to medical school and become a gastroenterologist. After he flunks out of college, Dennis is visited by a quartet of pushy angels, who harangue him into getting his act together, and he squashes down thoughts of following his heart in exchange for making his dead father proud. Yang hands the cartooning duties to Pham, whose loose watercolors and unfussy, energetic figures keep the tone light, contrasting, at turns, the deeply sober yet playful story. This isn't new territory for Yang or comics in general (both his American Born Chinese, 2006, and Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim graphic novels are spiritual kin), but Yang handles coming-of-age with the best of them and delivers a terrific twist in the finale, revealing how honoring both your family and yourself can find a happy balance.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist