GRAPHIC NOVELS

Topside

Graphic Universe. Oct. 2019. 200p. Tr $33.32. ISBN 9781512445893; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781541572850.
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Gr 5-8–Josephine Wilson is a busy mechanic responsible for maintaining the mechanical systems that her community needs to survive. Jo and her family live in the interior of the planet, where everything is run by a society called the Core; the surface is said to be a wasteland. When she accidentally leaves something behind on a repair job and causes additional damage, she attempts to fix the problem before it can be discovered. She forges an authorization to retrieve raw materials from the surface of the planet and ventures Topside. Her transgression is noticed by a young agent for the Core, who sets out to bring her back. A motley crew of bizarre characters, including a walking, talking shark and a lightbulb wearing a bow tie, help and hinder her quest. Navigating this dangerous and unpredictable path requires the skills of each member of the group. Jo learns that she is uniquely qualified to fix her world but that she can’t do it alone. Monk has crafted a surreal yet warm tale of a young heroine coming into her own. Bogosian’s fully saturated, at times chaotic panels are most compelling when directly accompanied by Monk’s narration; without these textual cues, readers may have a difficult time determining which way is up.
VERDICT This compelling, offbeat journey will resonate with future Douglas Adams fans.

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