The Wrenchies

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Wrenchies Book Poster Image
Violent future fantasy has dynamic art, confusing plot.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Set in a dismal future overrun by demonic Shadowmen, The Wrenchies is more about constant violent action than educational or moral lessons.

Positive Messages

The Wrenchies takes a harsh view of humankind's future, but it does emphasize the importance of loyalty and bravery.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although brave and resourceful, the Wrenchies are not a particularly pleasant group of teens, too focused on their own survival to act with compassion or empathy. Awkward, superhero-worshipping Hollis is by far the most sympathetic character -- someone who recognizes his own shortcomings but carries on nonetheless.

Violence

From start to finish, The Wrenchies is very violent. Its teen characters use swords, guns, lasers, rocks, nunchucks, grenades, and martial arts moves to fight demonic Shadowmen. Most of the victims bleed copious green slime mixed with insects. Younger, more sensitive readers may be upset by some of the imagery.

Sex

Based on their dialogue and body language, Sherwood and Marsi seem to develop some kind of romantic relationship as they mature. The exact nature of their attraction, however, remains obscure.

Language

The language in The Wrenchies is harsh, especially for a graphic novel featuring young teens. Variations of "s--t" and "f--k" are employed frequently, up to two dozen times each. "Piss," "damn," "ass," "d--k," "a--hole," and "hell" are used more infrequently.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sherwood grows up to be an extremely dissatisfied adult, usually shown smoking cigarettes, taking drugs. or drinking alcohol. It is not presented as a desirable state of affairs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Wrenchies is a hyper-violent futuristic fantasy, in which a band of orphans fights demonic Shadowmen and other monsters. The language is very harsh, with dozens of instances of "s--t," "f--k," and their variants, as well as infrequent uses of "hell," "damn," "prick," "ass," and "a--hole." The level of violence is high, with the Wrenchies using everything from baseball bats and swords to nunchucks and lasers to fight their enemies, most of whom bleed green slime mixed with bugs. As an adult, one character smokes, takes drugs, and drinks. Older readers may appreciate the punky, anarchic tone, but younger, more sensitive readers may find the imagery too disturbing. The artwork is sometimes murky, as is the plot.

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What's the story?

When brothers Sherwood and Orson venture into a mysterious cave, they're attacked by a demon Shadowman. Orson kills the monster, but Sherwood picks up a strange amulet that transports him to a futuristic, post-apocalyptic wasteland. There the Shadowmen battle with the Wrenchies, a band of teens who will use any weapon at hand to destroy their enemies. When awkward, bookish superhero fan Hollis shows up, the Wrenchies and Sherwood are put on a collision course.

Is it any good?

At first glance, THE WRENCHIES appears as if it might merely be an over-the-top homage to teen supergroups. But author-illustrator Farel Dalrymple has much more than that in mind. The graphic novel is by turns anarchic, surreal, darkly funny, and hyper-violent. The drawings are frequently grotesque and disturbing, but there's no denying their dynamism.

Unfortunately, some of the artwork is murky to the point of illegibility, and the plot proves to be equally opaque. Some readers will be repulsed; others will find the book engrossing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how comics differ from prose in how they present stories. How are some stories better suited for illustration than for prose?

  • Why are post-apocalyptic settings popular with teen readers? What makes the end of the world so fascinating?

  • Why are stories about groups of superheroes popular?

Book details

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