Squad Up (A Power Up Graphic Novel)

Squad Up (A Power Up Graphic Novel)
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
August 23, 2022
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Sixth-graders Rhys and Miles overcome challenges in friendship and gaming in this graphic novel told in multiple art styles and set in both the real world and inside the boys' favorite video game. A sequel to Power Up.
After their victory in the Every Game Ever tournament, unstoppable video game duo and, now, IRL best friends Rhys and Miles are enjoying their last few weeks of sixth grade. Miles's successful streaming channel gives him popularity points at school. Rhys's skill in Mecha Melee attracts the attention of elite gamers from around the world. And the duo is competing to be the first ever to beat Mecha Quest 21. If life were a video game, they have definitely levelled up.

But when the challenges of gaming at this level are compounded by shifting priorities, a mysterious online bully, and the academic demands of middle school, the pressure on the duo threatens to break them apart. In this graphic novel about friendship and loyalty, Rhys and Miles discover that sometimes you need to tap your squad to get the win.

Editor review

1 review
Mecha Melee and Honest Narwhal!
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
In the sequel to Power Up!, we find that Miles and Rhys have overcome their past problems and have revived a tentative friendship. They've won a videogame tournament and have a modicum of notoriety because of this. They like to play Mech Melee, a game that features giant robots that have a variety of battles. Rhys' dad tries to keep up with his son's progress in the game, and even has an app on his phone that lists the front runners! When a video gets sent to the students at their North Mesa middle school by a person calling themselves "Honest Narwhal", listing the popular kids in the school, they are on it because of their gaming notoriety, but the kids on the list soon become targets of someone trying to discredit them. A quiet, shy girl named Verna is interested in the game, but there is something suspicious about her. When Miles' family goes on a screen free vacation, things start to get out of hand with the Honest Narwhal posts. Will Rhys and Miles be able to control their own publicity, or will the Honest Narwhal get the better of them?
Good Points
Young readers who enjoy video games will love the lengthy parts of this book that detail the Mech Melee battles, but I struggled to understand a lot of them! I found it easier to focus on the subplot with Honest Narwhal's identity, although I knew fairly early on who that would be. There's enough going on to engage readers who are interested in either thread.

The illustration style made me think of an early computer game, Kate's Farm, that my daughter played. This gave it a fun, retro video game feel, and the Mech Melee robots reminded me a bit of the Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em toy of my youth. There's a good mix of action and adventure and a bit of philosophical thought about middle school relationships that works well.

Video game books are always a popular choice, and I always feel happy to find a new one, since my students can't be playing video games as long as they are reading about them. This graphic novel series is a great addition to books like Chang's Tournament Trouble series, Schrieber's Game Over, Pete Watson, Brown's Josh Baxter Levels Up, Korman's Slacker, or the Minecraft chapter books published by Tor.
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