Hey guys, my name is Brave Tomato, and I’m here with a very special post. So in mid-August of last year, the second Poptropica graphic novel, The Lost Expedition, was released out to the world. You can pick up the book on Amazon.
Although a review has been a long time in coming, now that book 3 is out, it seems a good a time as any to share thoughts on book 2 – so here we go!
Warning: This post contains spoilers.
The Lost Expedition starts off where Mystery of the Map left off with our trio of Mya, Oliver, and Jorge trying to find their way home. After discovering that the map can’t take them straight home, they end up hopping from island to island, trying to find hints that could get them somewhere as well as stock up on food supplies to survive the journey. Among the islands that they visit at first was one populated by the Greek Amazons, and one revolving around William Shakespeare in London. Each island is set to a specific location and time period, it seems.
Meanwhile, Octavian had escaped the clutches of Viking imprisonment and is after the kids once again for the map. However, this time around, Octavian is not the only person the kids have to worry about – on each island, there is one inhabitant that has a sun tattoo on their wrist. These inhabitants are actually spies for a secret society, and they are bent on getting the kids out of the islands by any means necessary.
The main plot kicks in when the kids end up on a barren glacial wasteland as they end up coming across the failed voyage of the HMS Terror (which was an actual failed voyage that occurred in 1813, a thanks to Tall Cactus for telling me). Stuck on this island with nowhere to go – and with no idea who to trust, will the kids pull through it all?
Now, let me tell you, this is a very different type of book than Mystery of the Map was, and I’ll say that it was really well-crafted. This tone here is a tad more serious with heart-warming moments mixed in with plenty of jokes along the way. There is also a tad bit of suspense, considering you never know what the kids are going to run into next. I enjoyed the story of this book more than the first installment, since we’re not stuck in one island the whole time.
Although the main plot on the HMS Terror island doesn’t kick in until page 30, the opening does a good job establishing what the world of Poptropica in this context is like. It’s clear that each island revolves around a specific era and location, whether it would be Anatolia at 479 BC or the Globe Theatre at AD 1602. This becomes a major point for what Octavian is up to, which I’ll touch on later on. There were also aspects introduced during this part, such as the connection with the tattoos being discovered and establishing how the kids got food and winter clothes that will be put to future use.
As for the rest of the story that does feature the HMS Terror, it does a good job in establishing the topic of the novel: the value of leadership. I’ll go into more detail on that once I reach the Characters portion of the review since it is a very character-centric topic. The journey and developments within the story are very engaging, and you’re anticipating what’s coming next. Although there might be points where the plot may be predictable, the story acts as a stepping stone to what we can expect for what’s coming next.
Kory Merritt is back at it again with the illustrations, and there are plenty of highlights within the presentation of the novel. The best illustrations come out of the large structures that were featured in the story. From the Globe Theatre to the abandoned ship itself and the Parthenon at Anatolia, these were spectacles to look at.
The character designs were also visually interesting – I really liked how over the progress of both series, Octavian’s hair and outfit grew to be more disheveled as he met with failure after failure. The new character designs were also cool to look at, from the Amazonian women of Anatolia, to the inhabitants at the Globe Theatre, to the crew of the HMS Terror.
Now for the action scenes – the best one has to be a scene at the Globe Theatre island when the kids are being pursued by both Octavian and that island’s Secret Society member on the rooftops. The leaps, the views from the chase, were all very cool to see, and it’s a nice change from the standard running on the ground moments. There were also appearances by this polar bear that also did a good job showing the suspense of the situation the characters.
The rest of the scenery is decent (there was not much to say about the glacial island since it’s just plain white snowy flatlands) with the exception of the mountain and the ship. All in all, the art style had more of a chance to shine here, since we get to see more than one place.
The characters in The Lost Expedition reflect the topic of the novel, the value of leadership. And there is no character that emulates this topic more than Mya.
Mya is establishing herself to be the most primary out of the three protagonist kids of the series and she’s one of the strongest out of the cast. Over the course of the story, it is clear that she is the one that will develop the most out of the protagonists. After all, remember that she did have to step up as a leader since she’s not only one of the smarter out of the group, but she’s also the oldest – based on the knowledge that she is Oliver’s older sister and that Jorge is the same grade as Oliver. Overall, I felt that Krpata did a really good job with her.
Now let’s talk about the boys, Oliver and Jorge. Starting with Oliver, he’s still showing his establishment as an ego with a heart of gold and great brainpower. His interactions with Mya are really sibling-like, and of course with them being siblings, this works very well for them. They have their arguments, but they show that they do care for each other – in particular, one of the most impacting scenes for me was when the trio get caught in a snow storm and Mya is trying to reassure a scared Oliver.
As for Jorge, he’s had both his stronger and his weaker moments within the book. Sometimes, he talks without a filter and tended to be concerned only for himself – especially when it came to food. Other times, he’s just there for comic relief purposes – while comedy is subjective, I felt that his comic relief moments were hit-or-miss. However, I won’t deny saying that Jorge’s weak moments are the weakest part of the graphic novel. There were parts where he became quite a lazy pain-in-the-butt.
Then there’s the Secret Society. Throughout their travels, the kids run into a variety of characters, one per island, who each have distinctive sun tattoos on their wrist. When one of them turns to capture the kids, we get an inkling of who they are and what their mission is – but not much. After all, the kids still don’t know what Poptropica is (and honestly, at this point in the tale, neither do we really – it certainly isn’t quite the Poptropica we know).
As for Octavian… hoo boy, howdy, we learn quite a bit more about Octavian in here than in the previous book. Not only is he still on constant pursuit of the kids. Not only is he getting more disheveled as the book goes along. Not only is he still clever and active as all heck. We also learn about his connection to the secret society, and the fact that he was a former member of it. Upon retrieving the map, he looks down upon it and grins that he’s coming home… to Pompeii at the year of Mount Vesuvius’s eruption.
I had a feeling that Octavian was in the same society as “Embed” (whose actual name is Nils), but his name foreshadowed that he was originally the Secret Society member for AD 79 Pompeii. He’s certainly up to something… and it may get personal!
Conclusion: 4/5 brave tomatoes
Overall, The Lost Expedition makes its mark as a continuation of the adventure that began with Mystery of the Map (not only the first Poptropica graphic novel in the series, but also an island you can play!). We’re taken through several interesting locations, meet lots of distinctive (and some mysterious) characters, all while being able to stay amused by the antics of our three protagonists – some more obnoxious than others!
While we continue to delve into what the world of Poptropica really is all about, The Lost Expedition certainly leaves some questions unanswered – but after all, that’s what a good book does. You’ll definitely want to pick up book 3, The Secret Society, after this read, and let the journey continue…
EDIT: The author, Mitch Krpata, has left a comment on this review regarding the analysis of Mya! Here’s what he had to say:
This means a lot, BT! Mya was closest to my heart in writing this book. At its core I really wanted the story to be about Mya accepting the responsibility of leading the group, and it’s gratifying to see that it came through.
The Secret Society focuses a little more on Oliver, and his conflict about what leadership to follow. I hope you like that one, too.
How awesome is that??? 😀