Chicagoland Detective Agency: The Drained Brains Caper (Review)

Book cover for "Chicagoland Detective Agency" by Trina Robbins.Title: Chicagoland Detective Agency: The Drained Brains Caper

Author: Trina Robbins

Illustrator: Tyler Page

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 60

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Graphic Fiction

Source: Electronic review copy via NetGalley

From the cover:

Raf knows Megan is trouble from the moment she steps into his mom’s pet food store asking for a tarantula. But there’s one thing you can count on in Chicagoland: weird things happen several times a day. Megan is a vegetarian, manga-reading haiku writer. She definitely doesn’t fit in at Stepford Academy, her new summer school. The other students are happy to be in class. Too happy. And everyone looks and acts exactly alike. That’s weird. Megan is determined to dig into Stepford’s secrets, but soon she’s in way too deep. Raf may be the only human being she knows who can help. But with zombified students, very mad scientists, and the school psychiatrist on their trail, they’re going to need a whole lot more help. We did say that Chicagoland is weird…

A few months back, I was perusing the new titles available on NetGalley, and spotted The Drained Brains Caper. The description looked interesting, and I’ve been wanting to read some lower-grade graphic fiction, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I wasn’t all that impressed with this volume, though. For one thing, I hadn’t realized right away just how short it is – only 60 pages. That’s typically not enough for me to find a story interesting, particularly in a graphic medium; there just isn’t time for the author to create a meaningful story. That’s definitely the problem with this volume: every event is glossed over and given pretty much no detail at all. I understand that it’s written for a younger audience, but I still think that even younger kids would like to have been given more details about the story.

It felt very much like The Drained Brains Caper was written as a vehicle to introduce the characters and begin a series. I’m concerned, though, that this volume wasn’t interesting enough to catch a reader’s attention and make them want to read other volumes in the series. There’s a second volume – The Maltese Mummy – due to come out in April; normally, I would be looking ahead to the second volume in a series, but I find myself completely uninterested in this one.

There were hints of interesting characters and possible plot twists in The Drained Brains Caper, but (sadly) nothing was followed through enough to make the reader care about their stories. This is one series that I won’t be looking forward to continuing.


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