Review: Zits: Chillax

Review: Zits: ChillaxZits: Chillax by Jerry Scott
Published by HarperTeen on May 21, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Humor
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted

Comic god Stan Lee says Zits is a “comedic masterpiece!” Fans of funny illustrated YA novels such as Drama by Raina Telgemeier and Teen Angst? Naaah… by Ned Vizzini will definitely want to read Zits: Chillax.

In Zits: Chillax, Jeremy Duncan, high school sophomore and future rock god, offers up a comedic outlook on teenage life, including school, parents, chores, bands, and friends.

Jeremy and his best friend, Hector Garcia, are planning to achieve a lifelong dream…going to a rock concert! Without parental supervision. But the Gingivitis concert falls on the same night their friend Tim is donating bone marrow for his mom, a cancer patient. Not a problem: Jeremy and Hector are determined to go to the show…for Tim.

Written and illustrated by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, Zits: Chillaxis based on their comic strip, Zits. The book features 300 illustrations—including hilarious full-page comics.

First Sentence: “I see a bead of sweat clinging to Byczykowski’s mustache hairs, and on her it doesn’t look bad.”

When I was a kid I loved reading the comic pages of the newspaper, or the ‘funnies’ as we always called them in my family. Zits, tragically accurate name aside, was always one of my favorites, perhaps even the favorite comic strip. Given that love, I was curious when I saw this book around, so when my dear friend Lenore (author of The Memory of After) offered me her ARC, I went for it. This novelization of the comic strip series was enjoyable if not quite as awesome as the strip itself.

While this is a novelization and not a collection of the Zits comics, which I thought might have been a possibility, fear not, as there are a bunch of illustrations in classic Zits style. Reading books with pictures is super refreshing, because all of a sudden I read so fast. Borgman’s illustrations are hilarious, largely integrated into the story, including dialog responding to the prose text, though some are sort of commentaries on the story going on around it.

Jeremy continues to be the quintessential teenage boy. He completes his schoolwork at the last minute, recognizes the best ways to avoid getting stuck doing chores, and is completely embarrassed by his parents. This, right here, is what most teens I know experiences: present parents who care and are just sort of endlessly the bane of your existence, as though they purposefully want to harm your tenuous social status. Jeremy hates talking about his feelings and converses primarily with the word “Dude.” He’s a teenage boy with dreams of being a rock god, who sometimes forgets where his bed is and sleeps on the piles of stuff on his floor. Oh yeah, and he sleeps until the afternoon because that’s what teens do.

Two elements combine for the plot of Zits: Chillax: a concert and cancer. Jeremy and his best friend Hector have tickets to go see their favorite band, Gingivitis, but are unsure whether they’ll be able to convince their parents to let them go. At the same time, their band Chickenfist is in trouble when Tim, the bassist, announces that he’ll be leaving them for a while, as his mother has cancer. The boys, unsure how to handle such an emotional moment decide that they need to go to this concert for Tim. This premise does make me a bit uncomfortable, using cancer as a device to move the plot along, rather than conveying the seriousness of it.

Aside from the cancer thing, Zits: Chillax is a series of hijinks related to getting to the concert. There are a lot of great funny moments, especially the moments where they’re just hanging out with their friends being teens or when Jeremy’s complaining about his parents. Oddly, the teen/parent dynamics have always been my favorite part of the comic, since they’re so spot on, both to the affection and the rampant frustration involved in the relationship.

The pacing of Zits: Chillax is fast, even without the pictures. It’s a light, fluffy read that can be enjoyed by boys and girls alike, as well as fans of the comic.

Favorite Quote:

“Whatever. Detention wasn’t that bad (Sara was there, too) and I don’t really mind being grounded because I don’t mind spending time alone in my room. Why do parents consider that punishment, anyway? Half the time they’re trying to pry me out of my room, and then when I screw up and get in trouble, they turn around and send me back in there, which is where I wanted to be in the first place! If you ask me, the only real punishment in the world is anything that falls under the heading of ‘Fun for the Whole Family’ which, trust me, is a lie.”

11 responses to “Review: Zits: Chillax”

  1. Okay I think reading this would bring back a LOT of memories for me. I may need to read this.

  2. Pabkins says:

    I love comics! I read and review them also on the weekends. But you know the high school ones just aren’t for me…unless they are manga. It’s too bad it’s not the original collection instead of a novelization. Agreed I love books with pictures, hence why I love middle grade now and then.

    • Christina says:

      So do I! They’re the best. I don’t read as many as I used to and it makes me sad. Manga is awesome. Oh really? I was excited this was something different, but to each her own.

  3. I didn’t read very many comics when I was little, I was always reading the entertainment section of the newspaper to find out what movies were coming out or what celebrity did what. Yes, I am a gossip monger. This sounds really fun though and it’s cool that it brought you back to your childhood! Also happy that they kind of stuck with the tried and true and didn’t try to change everything up to modernize it too much.

  4. I liked Zits comics, this sounds fun, great review!

  5. Amy says:

    I loved these comics!! I think I would really like this book.

  6. The cover doesn’t make me think of a full length novel, but it certainly catches my eye. I feel strangely inept, now, after reading the above comments – I have never heard of this particular comic strip, though it sounds hilarious and with the kind of humor I could have used a few years back. Also, I love the comically large feet and the embarrassing parents. Yes. Too true :).

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s full length since there are pictures, but it’s fun and was nice for the TBR pile. Haha, it’s a great comic series. You should check it out if you can!

  7. Bookworm1858 says:

    Wow-hadn’t heard about this novelization. I always like reading Zits in the paper but am not sure about reading it as a novel. Love that it still incorporates the drawings though!

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