Zita the Spacegirl, Book Three
By Ben Hatke
Available now from First Second (Macmillan)
THE RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL is the third and final Zita graphic novel (for now). Zita has saved many people and multiple worlds since leaving Earth to rescue her classmate Joseph. She's also made enemies, which has led to her being thrown into a terrible underground prison.
The Zita series is extremely popular for a good reason. The books have a lot of sci-fi action, colorful and creative character design, and an intrepid heroine determined to save the day. I really enjoyed how THE RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL brought back old characters, such as Piper and Madrigal, and introduced new ones, such as Zita's hilarious cellmates. It also has a strong theme of unintended consequences in addition to the usual selfless heroism.
I think THE RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL can be enjoyed alone, but it's best if you're familiar with the characters. Each of the novels is a pretty quick read, so there's no reason not to read the first two. Ben Hatke's Zita trilogy combines the appeal of Raina Telgemeier or Matt Phelan's art with a science fiction story reminiscent of Bruce Coville.
Fans of the series should be aware that THE RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL is darker than the first two books. It is still suitable for children, but some aspects might require a bit of discussion with an adult. (There are discussions of slavery, for instance.) I did appreciate that Hatke raised the stakes and let Zita go out strong. This trilogy is a great all-ages graphic novel read.