#IndieApril Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad” (Book One of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael Rosado

Posted Sunday, 26 April, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. Thereby it was with the Dream Horse Adventures series I decided to mark my return and was quite thankful this was a series she was celebrating through her touring company.

I received a complimentary copy of “Ultra Squad (Graphic Novel)” direct from the author Julia Devillers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read 2x Graphic Novels during #IndieApril:

I haven’t had the chance to read Graphic Novels in a long, long time – I felt this might be a good month to take a chance on a seemingly lovely series which showcases individuality & equality amongst girls who are striving to share not just friendship but adventures in life! I love series for Middle Grade readers which talk about collecting experiences & going on adventures because these are the roots of how all of us learn, grow and develop our understanding about the world round us. I love finding series which also talk about our uniqueness as individuals & how our differences do not need to become a dividing line to separate us – any story which features inclusivity and acceptance is a winner in my life!

When I was younger I would read Graphic Novels which were more like fan fiction narratives based on popular film franchises during the 1980s. I didn’t quite step into the full spectrum of Graphic Novels as I was a reader who was definitely a ‘mood reader’ as a child and young adult – as I would move in and out of both genres and areas of interest at the drop of a hat! My main mainstays though were the kind of genres I showcase through my Story Vault – Speculative Fiction played a strong role as did Mysteries & Suspense as well as INSPY narratives of Historical Fiction. When it comes to #HistRom & #HistFic alike – why it took becoming a book blogger to realise I’ve read more of those respective fields of literature than any Contemporary genre is still unknown to me!

I’ve researched Manga and other contemporary graphic novel styles – there are some artists & illustrators who truly gave my attention but overall, I haven’t truly found my niche in the Asian market of what is available. What I do enjoy are solid graphics, wicked illustrative plates which showcase dialogue & action sequences and of course, the layering of the story, the personality of the characters and how the story itself is tracking through the nature of how a graphic novel presents its subject and message. These are the areas I was looking at reviewing and using as talking points as I moved into reviewing this series for Lola’s Book Tours featured blog tour this April & May. (as my second review will be featured in May rather than the final week of April)

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#IndieApril Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad” (Book One of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael RosadoUltra Squad
by Julia Devillers
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours


When an evil force from the far reaches of the galaxy threatens Earth, the UltraSquad, a secret superhero team, with a mission to save the universe through teamwork, positivity, and justice, is enlisted to battle the overly smug villain. Along with their bizarro-cute extra-terrestrial sidekicks the Pallies, the kick-butt girls employ their magical ultra-superpowers to save the universe! This first book in a new graphic novel series inspires girls to reach for their dreams, work together, and make a difference.

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Children's Literature, Graphic Novel, Illustrated Stories, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade, Superhero Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732703001

Also by this author: Ultra Squad

Also in this series: Ultra Squad

Published by Justice Studios

on 12th November, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 96

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The Ultra Squad series:

Ultra Squad (Book One) by Julia DevillersUltra Squad Under the Strangebow by Julia Devillers

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Ultra Squad (book one) 

Ultra Squad: Adventures Under the Strangebow(book two)

Ultra Squad: Galaxy Dance Off (book three)
← *forthcoming 1st March, 2021

Ultra Squad: Time After Slime (book four)

Available formats: Trade Paperback

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Converse via: #UltraSquad, #GraphicNovel & #SuperheroFiction
as well as #MiddleGrade, #MGLit and #diverselit or #WeNeedDiverseBooks

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my review of Ultra squad:

Ultra Squad Characters collage provided by Lola Book Tours.

Meet the Ultra Squad!

– Posey (Pink): She loves acting and has a passion for fashion,
especially anything with sequins and glitter! Her motto is “Born to shine!”

– Anna (Turquoise): She is a gymnast who loves to stay active both through sports
like lacrosse and rock wall climbing. Her motto is “Girls run the world…and the galaxy!”

– Lyric (Purple): She lives for music and her guitar and also loves writing poetry
and volunteering at the dog shelter. Her motto is “Girls rock!”

– Sky (Green): She is super plugged into technology and loves science experiments
(like slime!). Her motto is “Problem? Problem solved.”

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The first thing you notice about Ultra Squad – is how portable these graphic novels are for young readers – you can easily see how they can be thrown into a backpack and taken on the go! (or to school – once its back in session!) The colour spectrum is fierce as well – the only downside was a slight ordour from the publishing inks – which I noticed as my seasonal allergies are raging right now and everything is setting them off! Oy. However, this didn’t deter me from reading the story – as I immediately connected to how the story was arranged – as the opening page is a foreshadowing of ‘danger!’ moving at high speed towards an unknown source! That in of itself is a page grabber – as what is that menacing object? Also brought back my hours with the crew of Star Trek: Enterprise this Spring 2020 – wherein we were trying to sort out what those spheres meant in the Expanse towards solving the overall crisis for Earth!

There is definite cheeky humour – although also a few words I think had a few liberties taken with their usage – as studenting might have raised a few brows for me as a middle grade reader. The humour itself thought was how Devillers was referencing the danger imagery and how she was anchouring the foreshadowing into the action of the present within the series itself.

Ooh my dear ghouls – when the secretary requests the presence of the four girls’ in her office – this is when Ultra Squad meets Galaxy Quest! In such a stroke of genius really – as similar to what you love about the film transitioning seemingly regular and quite ordinary humans into outer space to counter-act against a reptilian terrorist – you now find yourself at the mercy of ULTRA and what this entails for the girls’ being recruited to aide in their missions!

The segue into meeting the girls’ families was lovely because you had the chance to see their different backgrounds – including how one of the girls’ has a military family. It also showed a bit of back-history of the Ultra Squad as it was implied this was a legacy appointment and not just a random bit of good news in the middle of an ordinary school day where your not expecting much except homework, class-time and a disappointing lunch!

There is a lot of verbiage in the storyline which is slightly more urban slang than contemporary cool – mostly as the context has to be understood before you proceed with reading it. I was never the kind of kid who was clued into contemporary slang or acronyms as they were difficult for me to process as a dyslexic reader and learner. Therefore as an adult dyslexic reader entering into this series – I’d have to say, if I were to give this to a middle grade reader I’d ask them a few questions about shortcuts in contemporary language patterns and if they knew shorthand for certain phrases as the wordplay is altered and is attempting to come across as ‘clued in’ to the language of younger children although for me, I felt it fell a bit short on that end of it. I almost thought the author was trying a bit too hard to pull that off and should have just kept the girls’ speaking in a language pattern which was more reflective of their own personalities than what would be considered the ‘best’ en-vogue collection of terms and phrases.

Where the story grows in empathy is showing how each of the girls’ have their own strengths and weaknesses – which proved to be a learning curve for their ‘sidekicks’ which were really quite the awkward collection of aliens! Their superhero strengths played off their own individual talents on Earth and thereby gave them superhuman qualities in space! I liked how the girls’ acted their actual age and showed how they still needed a bit of guidance to understand new situations and new experiences where they might have felt a bit overwhelmed by the circumstances.

One of the plates threw me for a loop – there was a maze in the middle of the sequencing where the sidekicks were set to capture something for the Ultra Squad. It might have been used for a sequencing tool for kids to feel like they were going through the labyrinth of choices with the sidekicks but honestly it just felt like a small puzzle thrown into a page in the height of an action sequence?

The ending reminded me a heap of what happens in Back to the Future Part II – in fact, that was one of the films I loved watching at the age I would have naturally picked up this to read. There were some moments where I wish we could have understood more about the girls’ themselves – what made them unique and different from one another – I know the story focused on their individual talents and weaknesses, but I wanted a bit more back-story about the girls’ themselves. I would have preferred a lot less slang and shorthand as well – as again, even as an adult dyslexic reader I find half of that distracts from the story as I am constantly trying to sort out what the abbreviations are referencing and referring to whilst if the story just said what it had meant I would have been able to follow the story a bit easier.

Overall, the biggest surprise was really the unmasking of the villain which reminded me why we always looked forward to that reveal during an episode of Scooby Doo. I felt Ultra Squad borrowed a lot from other pop cultural stories and superheroes – wherein, it was struggling to have its own identity from the crowd. There are some good moments between the sidekicks and the girls’ but there was a bit of a downside in having them stay in-scene and not sound ridiculous too. I think this would be good for readers who might be even a bit younger than projected for the story itself as it is definitely geared towards newer readers who are not actively reading every week or month but might occasionally pick up a story.

About Julia Devillers

Ultra Squad Characters collage provided by Lola Book Tours.

Julia Devillers is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than two dozen middle-grade and teen novels including How My Private Personal Journal Became a Bestseller, Liberty Porter First Daughter, and Girlwise. She also created the first retail branded book series for girls, Tween Brands (Justice/Limited TOO), and USA Today called it "a novel approach for retailers." She has appeared on the major television networks and in the New York Times as an expert on tween girls. She lives in Ohio with her husband and their two children.

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Questions for my Readers:

What do you love most about reading Middle Grade stories?

Do you regularly read Graphic Novels?

Who are your favourite authors & illustrators for Graphic Novels?

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This blog blitz is courtesy of: Lola’s Book Tours

Lola's Blog Tours

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Ultra Squad Graphic Novel blog tour banner provided by Lola Book Tours.

This blog tour is hosting a giveaway – click the banner to find out the tour route for the blitz to visit with my fellow book bloggers who are hosting the Ultra Squad series whilst also finding out information on behalf of the giveaway itself.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Ultra Squad (Book one)” and “Ultra Squad: Adventures Under the Strangebow” (Book Two), synopsis for “Ultra Squad”, promotional images for Ultra Squad (the series) as well as the author’s biography were provided by Lola’s Book Tours and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Book Trailer for “Ultra Squad” was able to be embedded due to codes provided by YouTube. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

read more >> | Visit my Story Vault of Book Reviews | Policies & Review Requests | Contact Jorie


Posted Sunday, 26 April, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Indie Author, Juvenile Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours, Middle Grade Novel

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