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About the book
  • Published: 2 July 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143771241
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 264
  • RRP: $30.00

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas


Formats & editions


Eco-warrior Helen holds the keys to save the world in this multi-layered, award-winning dystopian graphic novel.

Kidnapped by time-travelling ninjas, Helen is thrust into the year 2355 — a ruined future with roving gangs and ‘Peace Balls’, giant humming devices that enslave and control people’s minds.

The Go-Go Ninjas have one goal — to destroy the Peace Balls. They believe that Helen knows how.

Can Helen use her knowledge of the past to help them save the future?

An electrifying graphic novel by award-winning authors.

  • Pub date: 2 July 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143771241
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 264
  • RRP: $30.00

About the Authors

Ant Sang

Ant Sang is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed cartoonists and graphic novelists. His books have been published in New Zealand, North America, the United Kingdom, France and Taiwan. His bestselling graphic novel Shaolin Burning won an Honour Award at the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, and was in the Top Ten of the Nielsen BookScan charts for ten weeks. His cult comic series The Dharma Punks was released in 2014 in graphic novel format after a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, hitting its target goal after five days. Ant has also been a featured speaker at Taipei International Book Exhibition, and his work has featured in exhibitions. One of the original key creatives of the acclaimed television series bro'Town, Ant won Achievement in Production Design awards for his work on the show. He lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand.

Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett (Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Whakaue) is an award-winning New Zealand screenwriter and author whose films have been selected for numerous festivals including Cannes, Berlin, Toronto and New York. In 2008 Michael was the inaugural recipient of the Writers Award from the New Zealand Film Commission, and in 2005 he was awarded the British Council/New Zealand Writers Foundation Award. In 2011 Michael’s feature film Matariki won Best Feature Film Screenplay at the New Zealand Screenwriting Awards, and in 2013 he was awarded Best Documentary Screenplay for his documentary on the Teina Pora case, The Confessions of Prisoner T. He went on to publish In Dark Places in 2016, which won Best Non-Fiction Book at the Ngaio Marsh Awards and Best Biography/History at the Nga Kupu Ora Awards 2017. Michael lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and is Head of Screenwriting at South Seas Film School.


Praise for Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas

“a captivating sci-fi adventure that can be devoured in one sitting, yet is much more than superficial action entertainment. The multi-layered time-travel story tackles serious issues. ...The diverse cast of characters and the combination of action-driven, thought-provoking, and witty scenes are just two aspects that make this a highly satisfying read.”

International Youth Library, 2019 White Raven Catalogue

“It’s an action-packed graphic novel, a speculative tale set three hundred years into New Zealand’s future with more than a nod to George Miller’s movie Mad Max: Fury Road as well as a hint of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale... Populated with kick-ass female characters, minimal dialogue, and blow-by-blow action, Helen and the Go-go Ninjas comes with an important message for society about the dangers of corporate-driven technologies to the health of our planet, and ultimately to the people who live on it. It’s not their first time around the block, and comic artist Sang and screenwriter Bennett know a thing or two about dramatic flair. The images are stunning: the story told in pallets of muted grey green and striking reds. It’s a visual feast of quickfire narrative, including some visual jokes... It was especially encouraging to come across a very able disabled heroine...Overall, Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas is a highly entertaining read, and a fast-paced fun way to spend an evening.”

Lee Murray, leemurray.com - Speculative Fiction Blog

“There is a filmic quality about this excellent graphic novel for readers as wide as intermediate to young adult...Very clever, very imaginative and full on action. I was amazed how much philosophical, scientific and emotional argument can be communicated in Ant Sang’s brilliant comic illustrations. Combine this with Michael Bennett’s tight script and you have a film classic in the making...I read this very quickly in like 30 minutes, then sat down and read it again. You will too. I am off to read it again. If you miss this you will kick yourself. Very cool indeed.”

Bob Docherty, Bob's Book Blog

“perfect for older teens”

The Teen Age, Tots to Teens

“This graphic novel was originally conceived as a film script by Michael Bennett and it has the tightly-connected plot and well-constructed surprise twists of a good action film. At the same time Ant Sang’s illustrations bring an imaginary world into being, with convincing detail and skilfully shifting viewpoints. As soon as you have read this book, you immediately turn back to page 1 and start through again, this time appreciating the carefully planned structure and the careful placing of tiny hints (such as Helen’s cold) which will be significant later...ironies, quirks of human behaviour and razor-sharp storytelling, as well as the ability to project some social issues of the present into the future, make Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas a winning graphic novel.”

Trevor Agnew, Agnew Reading

“In the tradition of other great comics collaborations, this book has brought out the best in both authors, pushing them into unexpected territory. It's a treat to see Sang drawing the twisted wreckage of a dystopian future, complete with overgrown forests and exotic wildlife (watch out for those tigers!), in vivid Technicolor, while Bennett's tight plotting and economic scripting perfectly complements the performances Sang's artwork brings to life. Helen and the Go-go Ninjas deserves to find a wide audience and should particularly appeal to teenagers, speaking to the concerns they see in the world around them, from climate change to toxic masculinity. It doesn't pull any punches, while never failing to entertain.”

Adrian Kinnaird, New Zealand Books


Awards & Recognition

  • White Ravens International Youth Library

    Awarded • 2019 • White Raven Award

  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

    Finalist • 2019 • Russell Clark Award for Illustration


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