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On a Sunbeam

Review

On a Sunbeam

ON A SUNBEAM is a hefty graphic novel --- at first glance you can't help but stare at it because it's so eye-catching, a near monochromatic cover with pops of teal. Readers familiar with Tillie Walden will already know they’re in for a treat, but even if you haven't read anything by her before you have to at least feel the thrill of looking at something so beautiful. Even the title is entrancing. It was this glimpse of the title and the cover that first drew me to ON A SUNBEAM and I went into it without much background or expectation.

Set in space, ON A SUNBEAM travels two timelines connected by our main character, Mia. We meet Mia as the new member of a Restoration Crew tasked with rebuilding lost buildings on faraway planets. Her fellow crew mates are a ragtag found family --- Jules, Char, Alma and Elliot and Mia quickly finds her place with them.

"There's something for everyone --- the achingly gorgeous love story, the mystery of...character's pasts, the incredible rendering of the world through the detailed illustrations."

The second timeline is from five years previous and Mia is a wily student at a boarding school persistent in forming a friendship with the mysterious new student, Grace. It isn't long before the girls are inseparable, even if Grace won't share anything about her past and how she came to be at the school. They fall in love and all is well...until it isn't, and Mia is left alone, desperate to find Grace again.

Through the twisting of the narratives, we see Mia's path unfold and just how the crew is connected to Grace. Tillie's breathtaking art provides such depth into the emotion and inner workings of these characters. The world-building, too, is fascinating --- I loved the Lux scenes, a sport that's popular at the boarding school and involves space ships and planets and teams.

Every character is treated like they are the protagonist and I love the care that Tillie has put into creating them. Each story line, just as the timelines, are masterfully constructed so that several twists and turns leave you breathless while reading. The exploration of the world and the images keep you on the edge of your seat and so enthralled that before you know it, you've paged through the entire book so quickly that you're turning to the beginning to experience it all again. I can see this book easily as a popular television show; it's just begging to be adapted for the small screen.

I would recommend this book to even novice graphic novel readers because it's too good to miss out on. There's something for everyone --- the achingly gorgeous love story, the mystery of certain character's pasts, the incredible rendering of the world through the detailed illustrations. Readers will cheer for Mia and Grace as the pieces fall into place. Like many of my favorite books, I wish I could read it again for the first time. For now I'll just marvel at the panels and try to catch something I might've missed.

Thank you Tillie Walden for such a lovely book; I can't wait for what's next from you!

Reviewed by Brianna Robinson on October 16, 2018

On a Sunbeam
by Tillie Walden