FICTION

On a Sunbeam

illus. by Tillie Walden. 544p. First Second. Oct. 2018. Tr $32.99. ISBN 978–1250178145; pap. $21.99. ISBN 9781250178138.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—Walden's meditative space epic will easily win the hearts of sci-fi and romance fans. Mia is the latest addition to a team of restorers, who are tasked with repairing abandoned structures across the galaxy. Though each member of the tight-knit crew is harboring a complicated past, it is wistful Mia who proves to be the linchpin of the plot. Walden treats readers to a stunning interpretation of interstellar life; fluid, fish-shaped ships, floating cathedral-like ruins, and giant celestial creatures add to the grandeur of the story, as do the enormously meaningful friendships and romances among the cast of women and nonbinary characters. The narrative is split into two time lines: one set in the present, colored in berry tones with swatches of orange and red, that follows Mia and the restoration crew; and one five years earlier, done in black, white, and shades of gray blue, where Mia, then a freshman at a boarding school, develops a swoon-worthy romance with new classmate Grace. Walden depicts them with warmth, often dedicating an entire wordless page to their embrace. The artwork, from expansive landscapes to cozy glimpses of the shipmates snuggled together watching TV, is a sight to behold.
VERDICT Bound to be a sci-fi favorite, especially for teens who also appreciated Nina LaCour's We Are Okay.

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