Monday, March 25, 2019

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden - OPTIONAL

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden, 535 pages. First Second (Roaring Books Press), 2018. $22. 9781250178138.

Language: R (100+ swears, 50 ‘F’); Mature Content: PG (homosexual relationships, dangerous situations); Violence: PG (bullying, minor battles/fights)



Mia meets Grace during her freshman year of boarding school and the two immediately hit it off and eventually become a couple. Before year’s end, Grace’s family abruptly arrives and takes her home; Mia is held up and unable to actually tell Grace goodbye. Following graduation, Mia gets a job with a refurbishment crew who travel around space refurbishing a variety of old buildings. It is at one refurb job that has connections to the mysterious area The Staircase where Mia finally opens up to the crew about her secret wish to travel to The Staircase and seek out her friend, Grace. The crew, it turns out, has connections to The Staircase and to Grace, so they willingly go along on the dangerous mission. And it is at The Staircase where we face the remaining questions—Will they find Grace? Why doesn’t Ell speak? And will they actually make it back from this quest?

This book was originally a web comic and now in paperback it really suffers from being too long—too many panels of art that do not add much to the story. The story itself could be told in half the number of pages you have in the book. The lack of men in the story is never explained—every character is LGBTQIA+ in someway, which makes this a nice pick for those looking for books specifically for that audience. The actual graphic illustrations are pretty intense though the coloring is all very dark. I found the story interesting enough (maybe a bit too vague in its explanations of space magic at times) but I imagine it would be more appealing to a teenage reader who feels like an outsider. I had to rate it optional due to the atrocious language, but probably still would have rated it optional anyway. It’s a fine graphic novel—the author is clearly a talented artist—but nothing here really blew me away.

Reviewer: TC  

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