Always Human

Ari North. Little Bee, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4998-1109-4
Published in partnership with GLAAD, North’s queer futuristic romance imagines an alternate Australia in which people employ modifications to alter their appearance, augment their abilities, and even combat illness. Nearly 22-year-old Sunati integrates mods into her daily life, regularly changing her appearance and using memory mods to study. Austen, 18, on the other hand, has an immune condition that prohibits mod use, even for medical reasons, and she struggles to appreciate her natural appearance. After the young women meet in a train station, mutual interest develops as they introduce each other to their worlds. Sunati transports Austen to a VR environment she designed to resemble an endless sky, and Austen takes Sunati to a “naturalist” commune populated by those who can’t or won’t use mods. Poor communication leads to emotional conflict, punctuated by Sunati’s guilt about using mods and Austen’s unconfronted insecurities. Featuring a diverse cast of side characters, the story successfully avoids unfortunate tropes that fictional queer relationships frequently suffer. Though the collected webcomic can sometimes feel disjointed, soft, expressive art adds a visceral charge to the couple’s very human experiences, which range from excitement and affection to pain and doubt. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 12–up. Agent: Maria Vicente, P.S. Literary Agency. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/25/2020
Release date: 06/01/2020
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-4998-1110-0
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