On a Sunbeam

Tillie Walden. First Second, $32.99 (544p) ISBN 978-1-250-17813-8
In this sprawling, wonderfully original space jaunt by Walden (Spinning), the depicted characters are all female or gender nonbinary, and the diverse protagonists inhabit cluttered and homey quarters aboard a fish-shaped starship. Teenage Mia joins the close-knit crew of the spaceship Aktis, who travel the galaxy restoring old buildings that float untethered in open space. Flashbacks chronicle Mia’s freshman year at boarding school—bullies, sports, and all—and her doomed romance with the mysterious Grace. When Mia discovers her crewmates’ unexpected connection to Grace, the crew embarks on a dangerous mission to a forbidden planet to find her. The exquisite art foregrounds simply lined characters against intricate architectural constructs, and Walden’s distinctive layers of flat color create temporal cohesion and emphasize themes of memory and family. As Walden develops the relationships, and drops tantalizing hints about the vast universe this graphic novel inhabits, it becomes clear that the meandering, atmospheric journey—and the growth it affords each character—is the point. With a gratifying conclusion, this masterful blend of science fiction–inflected school drama, road trip, and adventure is nothing less than marvelous. Ages 12–up. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Company. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2018
Release date: 10/02/2018
Hardcover - 544 pages - 978-1-250-17814-5
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