Transformers meet Voltron in Mech Cadet Yu Volume one by Greg Pak, Takeshi Miyazawa and Triona Farrell. I would like to point out when I say Transformer and Voltron I do not mean the modern-day versions but the awesome 1980s versions I grew up on. The story itself is totally today, but still the creators are paying honor to the classics.
The story is every few years giant robots from outer space come to bond with cadets from the Sky Corps Academy. Sixty-years ago, the first one bonded with a young boy scout out in the desert, to help Earth protect itself from the aliens called the Sharg (who are not your cuddly ET phone home kind of aliens). Now, it is an honor to be chosen, as only a few are. But this year, one not-all-put-together robot did a boo-boo. It picked the wrong kid. Or did it?
Stanford is a goofy, janitors kid whose mother scolds him in Cantonese, is worried about him (after all, her husband death was directly related to original war) and is a whiz with mechanical things. He and three other cadets (one the daughter of a general who has a grand scheme in mind that might not be all that noble and who, along with his daughter, is not Stanford fans) will be thrown into a war they might not be ready for.
Sandford is your typical hero: he is the runt, not well liked, the underdog, is thought of only as the “janitors kid.” You see where Stanford keeps true to himself and Park (the generals daughter) might just come around. It is all stereotypical, but that can be forgiven as it is an interesting story. This book works for the 10 to 14-year-old crowd, but a strong 9-year-old could read as well. However, the ages it is geared for via the publisher description is 12 to 17. I think that, due to the war/alien issues, the sensitive reader might not be able to read it, but it could go as high as adult reading it. Not having read the other volumes, I am not sure how the sexual context, language or violence will play out. Therfoer, it might become for an older reader. The art is extremely busy, therefore, that might be a slight turn off to some, but if you take your time it comes clear why things are as busy as they are. I think I would have liked the robots to perhaps “speak” more (they only make “veep” sounds), but they are not human therefore, why should they speak English?
Perhaps my favorite part is the end where design and other background art is included as well as the original story that this one is based on. There are a few changes from what will finally become Mech Cadet Yu but it is still the same story.