On a Sunbeam

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

While I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as Spinning, I still breezed through the 530+ pages in 24 hours. The premise of the book is interesting. The book is set in space and, while there is a non-binary character, there are no male characters. Honestly, with so many strong female characters, it wasn't even really noticeable that there was no men in the book. However, this interesting aspect of the world-building was not explored.

After finishing high school, Mia joins a reconstruction team that works to restore old buildings. Through flashbacks, the book also describes how Mia met her girlfriend, Grace, during the girls' freshman year of high school five years earlier. Grace had to suddenly drop out toward the end of the school year, and Mia always wondered about her. The girls' slow-burn romance was adorable and I wanted more scenes like it.

I have mixed feelings about the artwork. The panels depicting the outer space background or exterior of buildings, such as the abandoned religious building they reconstructed, were intricate and colorful. However, I didn't love the color palette used for some of the other scenes. The background was dark in many panels, which made it difficult for me to distinguish between some of the characters. I also did not connect to any of the characters. Personally, I would prefer more character development and less action scenes.
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I loved Tillie Walden’s art! I’m still returning to the book just to adore drawings. It’s a pity I don’t have a printed version.

I’m all in if there’s cosmos in a novel. Especially, if it’s a graphic novel. I liked the plot and characters, but maybe more work could have been done. Sometimes it was too simple and raw, and other times I couldn’t understand the world Tillie Walden has created. But it’s a graphic novel, so maybe it should be like this? Maybe you need to feel it like poetry, not to understand all of it with words.

There is a long lost love in the novel. We have two parallel stories with the same main character named Mia. She fell in love in college and now she’s working on the space ship (it looks like a fish, so cool!). How had her love ended in the past and what is she trying to find in the space now? All of it locks in one piece somewhere in the end of the novel. By the way, all the characters are girls and women. Somehow it was really nice to have a novel without men at all. It was definitely new to me and felt really feministic. 

So, “On a Sunbeam” is an original and beautiful story. You don’t find something like this every day. I really recommend it, even if the genre “graphic novel” is new for you, like it was for me.
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I loved the artwork in this book. While the story fell flat for me in a few places, I kept turning the pages because of how beautifully constructed this graphic novel is. Walden ties it all together in the end with a happy resolution.
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Gorgeous graphic novel with a compelling plot. I purchased this title for our library based on my reading of this galley. (Review is short because it's been a substantial period of time since I read this book, but I wanted to give feedback and thanks.)
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Tillie Walden has written a GIANT queer space opera that manages to be quiet and tense at the same time. 
The story is told in two timelines, past and present, with a corresponding color change. The worldbuilding is fascinating, with the characters traveling through space to rebuilt various historic sites. The character development is also detailed, and though it's a little hard to sink into, with so many characters and two timelines, the payoff is worth it. 
This book is over 500 pages, so when I say it's big? I mean it. It's sort of YA, sort of not, but it's definitely an f/f romance.
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This was nearly perfect for me. The art was gorgeous and I want to live inside this comic. It was giving me Miyazaki and Neon Genesis vibes but way gayer. I just feel like there was almost too much trying to happen and not everything got to be fully explored, which sounds crazy in a 500+ book. But again nearly perfect!
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This huge graphic novel, originally a webcomic, will have huge appeal to teen readers.  The interesting artwork, outerspace/futuristic elements, feminist vibes, and lgbt romances will draw in fans of Walden's previous book as well as those who enjoy graphic artists like Noelle Stevenson and Emily Carroll.
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Tillie Walden’s Spinning was one of the first graphic novels I read and I ADORED it. So when I heard she had another book coming out, I knew I needed to read it! And somehow, I loved this one even more.

On a Sunbeam is set in outer space. Mia is the main character who joins a team of people that rebuilds structures on different planets. We follow Mia as she gets to know her new crew, but we also see flashbacks from when Mia was in boarding school where she fell in love. Of course she never stopped thinking about her first love and wants to find her again.

The story is beautiful and Tillie’s artwork is fantastic. It has so much feeling and completely pulls you in. I’m partial to science fiction and stories set in space anyway, but add Tillie Walden’s gorgeous artwork and I’m in heaven.

If you’re also a graphic novel fan, pick this one up. And if you’ve never read a graphic novel, this is a perfect way to start!

Thank you to First Second and NetGalley for sending me this gorgeous ARC!
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So much imagination and heart.this is a stunning piece of work that left me contemplating my existence by the end of it.
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I loved this book! The art was amazing and the storyline kept me on my toes the whole time. As I got farther into the book, I loved the characters more and more. I loved the relationships in the book Charlotte and Alma, and Mia and Grace. All of the characters were well rounded and had great personalities, and I really loved how we didn't really know some things about the characters like what really happened to Elliot and what happened to Jules's mom and Alma's sister. I was a little confused on whether there were no men in the world because there seemed to be no male characters in the book, but I really liked the representation with the LGBT+ characters. The artwork was phenomenal! It had great color and amazing detail. I was really really impressed with this book!
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I loved the diverse characters, but the story could be very difficult to follow at times. The art could be too abstract or subtle for me to even recognize where the characters were at times. I did enjoy the multiple relationships among the characters and wanted some of them to be more fleshed out.
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Surprisingly slow paced for a graphic novel. And given the length, that's not really in it's favor. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And it's not always the clearest plot. I really struggled to understand what was going on, what the ultimate aims were, how this world was structured.As the plot progresses, some of that confusion was cleared up but not all of it.
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It really took about 1/3 of the way through On a Sunbeam for the story to really catch me, which is a lot for an over 500 page book. That said, once the story really hooked me, I was completely hooked and finished the book in one sitting.
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One Sentence Synopsis: Space, boarding schools, and a breathtaking romance brought to life by it’s extremely impressive art.

Why You Should Be Reading: On a Sunbeam feels like a twist on what we know about traditional interstellar stories. There is the bleak desolation that comes with a world outside of Earth. Oh and the found family aspect that always comes with books/storylines/plots such as these. Both present throughout On a Sunbeam. But part of it (at least for me) doesn’t matter or register to me because of how remarkable Walden’s world is and how much you’re in love with the romance between Mia and Grace. 

We don’t get to see LGBT stories too often, especially ones with a background in sci-fi. But Walden does it and succeeds. She took a risk and is now reaping the benefits of her masterful work of a space opera. And frankly, this is the kind of stuff I wouldn’t mind seeing more of on my TV screen. Not so subtle hint, TV studios and execs!

Genres: Graphic Novels, Science Fiction, Comics, LGBT

Other Books by Tillie Walden: A City Inside, I Love This Part, Spinning

Learn more about the author HERE.

Buy On a Sunbeam HERE.

Add On a Sunbeam to your Goodreads HERE.
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I'm not much of a graphic novel reader, as a general rule of thumb, but the synopsis of this one caught my attention, and I love the cover. It was kind of an impulse-request when I saw it on NetGalley and I was a bit surprised when I was approved for an ARC. (In my defense, I was approved for it two days before the release, which is why the review wasn't on my usual schedule. Less in my defense, it still shouldn't have taken me as long as I did to get to it.)

I find myself without that much to say, though, which is part of why this review has taken me longer to write than I had been expecting. 

On a Sunbeam is a space fantasy (I hesitate to call it science fiction given the lack of science included in it), and as a story is in a similar vein to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which is to say that the themes are dominantly character-based, and about relationships. It's a love and friendship and found-family story primarily, quiet in a way that really reminds me of Becky Chambers' work. On a Sunbeam is a quiet story, where not much happens in terms of big action scenes. It is also non-chronological. The timeline set in Mia's present follows her and the crew she's been hired on with after finishing with school, the other timeline tells the story of Mia in school, meeting and falling in love with- and then losing- Grace. 

The point of view isn't entirely consistent either. The majority of the storytelling centers around Mia, but the rest of the crew, as well as Grace and her family get screen time apart from Mia as well. If there is graphic novel equivalent to telling a story in third-person omniscient, I think that's what this is. 

There was, however, something frustratingly unmemorable about the story, which hindered my ability to really get into it. I kept finding myself having to remind myself of the names of the characters, and just didn't find myself really relating to any of the characters on an emotional level. Everything happening with them was... just happening. I didn't really feel much of anything in response to any of it. I think, in a way, this story came up against the limits of it's page count and medium- there just wasn't enough time to convincingly develop the characters and the relationships when seeing them all from the outside, and, as the story is primarily driven by the characters and their relationships, that made it difficult for me to feel anything beyond a sort of neutral enjoyment. 

That said, I can see it being a very comforting story? It's quiet and I really do like the themes. Also there are some really beautiful spreads in this book from a visual standpoint. The worldbuilding is mainly done visually, with the aesthetic being almost Ghibli-esque. There clearly isn't a grounding in science, despite the space setting but then- there doesn't need to be. It isn't that kind of a story, and it isn't trying to be. Instead it's beautifully illustrated fish-ships and alien landscapes, conveyed with simple pallets that vary throughout the book and help differentiate past from present. The landscapes and world art were kind of my favourite part, actually, the work really is striking on that front. (The character design, at least for me, occasionally made it a struggle to tell characters apart at a glance.)

Overall, this read was enjoyable for me, if not memorable in terms of story or character. The strongest component was that I was always looking forward to seeing the world Tillie Walden illustrated! I like, as a concept, the themes of found family, and the queer love stories (and that the story included a non-binary person!), even if I found that the characters in execution didn't really resonate with me. I'm left with the feeling of wishing that this story had been everything to me that it was trying to be, but also the sense that it might work for someone else.
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A lovely story about family and the people you choose as family set against an engaging syfy backdrop. I was hooked. However, there are some parts that were difficult to follow and took a bit of going back or skipping. 

Overall, could have had a smoother narrative but was heartwarming enough to overcome this flaw.
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On a Sunbeam follows a group of space travelers who rebuild destroyed structures as a way of bringing the past back to life. The chapters switch between present and past - allowing the reader to learn a bit about each member of the crew. In the end, each member has to decide what they're willing to sacrifice for their friends, to offer the chance of freedom to a girl from a very reclusive group of people. A girl who may not want to leave. 

I found the story to be sweet, if not a bit slow. Some aspects of the art were amazing, while others weren't to my taste. That isn't to say they were bad, only that they weren't my preference. I think this graphic novel covers a range of topics that young adults would find interesting. School life, family obligations, sexuality, gender choices, etc. It's a good story, though occasionally a bit confusing. 

It's a 3 from me.

Stefanie Rae
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A beautiful and strange book, made more beautiful by its strangeness. It's like A.S. King in graphic novel format.
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Absolutely gorgeous story about found family, two young girls finding themselves and each other, and family ties.
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A very inclusive and well crafted graphic novel. It is set in a different universe, so the first half was very difficult to follow, especially that sometimes the images are a bit unclear and I was unsure what was going on as the world isn't explained well. But once you're immersed into it, it's intriguing and good.
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