Koko Be Good by Jen Wang

Koko Be Good by Jen Wang

Wang, Jen. Koko Be Good. First Second, 2010. ISBN 978-1596435551 299 pp. $


In Koko Be Good, Jon is preparing to uproot his life in CA to move to Peru and save the world with his much older mentor turned lover, Emily. He meets a girl named Koko who challenges him to reconsider his ideals, and his purpose for making the choices he’s made.

Although I read over 200 pages of this book, I struggled throughout to keep everyone, (and the timeline!) straight. The present of the story is Jon waiting for Emily’s return and preparing to leave with her, and Koko’s life, and her friend Faron… but there are flashbacks that aren’t always readily apparent.

I liked how the spread on the open pages, of Jon listening to Emily’s tape recording over and over in the first pages, and I liked how the cell phone panel on page 20 conveys they have little to talk about (maybe it’s just expensive to call long distance from Peru, but I thought it was foreshadowing that this is a relationship that’s run it’s course.

Not all of the art is nearly as effective (although, the drabness of the color scheme is pretty effectively depressing – I sort of expected it to change, as Jon had his epiphany, but it didn’t. The illustration of Jon and Emily reminds me a LOT of a scene in Blankets – maybe curled up in a ying yang position is a classic way to lie with your lover?

Maybe if I plugged on to the end, the story would be resolved–I have an assumption as to where it’s going, and don’t feel compelled to finish.

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