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Emily the Strange: Dark Times: 09/05/12

cover art

Emily the Strange: Dark Times by Rob Reger is the third of the Emily the Strange series. A new book, a new town and a new adventure. This time, she's going back in time to save her great aunt Lily from the white fever.

Emily, though, has a few problems. The first one is, she has only enough black rock for her Time Out Machine (TOM for short) to take her back to August 1790. To make matters worse, she can't get any more because Black Rock, the town, has become unhinged in time and space. Then there's Lily, who needs a cram session in girl power.

Throughout all of Emily's adventures this time are her homework assignments. She's been given permission to homeschool herself. That means giving herself homework with points. There's an appendix with some of her turned in assignments.

But even back in 1790, Emily has secret tunnels to explore and unusual characters with equally unusually talents to meet. This time, though, she has to be careful to keep her family tree safe while trying to get home.

There's of course discussion of parallel universes, the butterfly effect and other time travel tropes. Along with the time travel jokes, there's the usual black, white and red illustrations.

But there's a twist. While it might seem that the title is a play on the "'Curiouser and curiouser' said Alice" from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the title is more literal than literary. See, Emily has duplicated herself. But not it seems her twin is out to get her and her mother is no help at all, deciding to keep both daughters.

One Emily spends her time making a secret sanctuary (with help from a strange neighbor boy) in an abandoned bit of the city sewer. The other Emily meanwhile is honing her mad skateboarding skills and pulling pranks. All of their exploits are captured in diary form. There's just one problem... it's not always easy to tell which Emily is writing.

Emily the Strange: Dark Times is a book I had to re-read long parts of. This was a good thing. It was fun to track down the subtle changes in each Emily and figure out which one was writing.

While the setting is new there is a similar mixture of odd ball characters to round out this hybrid graphic novel. Emily's mother, while not a mad scientist, is just as delightfully odd as her daughter(s). There's also the boy in the sewer, and the dangerous next door neighbor who has her own agenda.

Five stars

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