When I first stumbled upon Fearbook Club on NetGalley, I was immediately pulled in by the cover. Then I read the description and was easily sold by its premise. A group of middle school students who are deemed the weirdos and forced to join Yearbook Club, only to discover there are ghosts of missing students lingering around campus. It’s a pretty fun concept, and while it isn’t always cohesive, it’s a rather easy read that celebrates the outcasts.
Fearbook Club, which hails from AfterShock Comics, was created by writer Richard Hamilton, artist Marco Matrone and letterer Dave Sharpe tells the story of four middle school outcasts that are forced to work together in a Yearbook Club. The lead character, Whit, is a shy 6th grader who loves photography and spends most of his free time taking photographs that he develops in his makeshift darkroom at home. It’s when he develops his film after he takes of a fellow student near a condemned building on school that his world becomes entwined in chaos. In the photo, Whit discovers other students in the picture — other students that were only visible through the photograph.
When Whit and the others try to unravel the mystery, they soon discover their school has a long track record of missing students that are seemingly forgotten. What unravels is a story of overcoming fear and doing what is right in the long run. Unfortunately, this is also where the story falls apart. Things become rushed that the last twenty pages become hard to follow. The mystery of who and what is behind the missing students is fascinating, but it’s not executed in the best way to truly benefit the story.
As for the artwork, it’s pretty great, honestly. It’s the artwork that carries the story. From the design of the “monster,” to the way the emotions are conveyed in scenes, the artwork tells the story wonderfully.
Overall, Fearbook Club isn’t a book everyone is going to love and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. While it does have its issues, Fearbook Club is a book I would highly recommend to young readers because it tackles important topics such as overcoming fear, handling grief and finding yourself. Even better? It does so in a way to keep them invested in the story — it brings in a spooky element, all while still managing to stay reality-based.