Cover Image: Topside

Topside

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Member Reviews

*Received via NetGalley for review*

Well-drawn with wonderful diversity and alien creatures. It definitely could have used more exposition and backstory, since the world we were thrown into is simply presented.
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This was a perfectly fine graphic novel. I am loving dystopian, post apocalyptic stories right now, but there was just no set up or world building in this one. I didn’t get enough backstory on the side characters which made it so I didn’t really care about any of them.
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This was so beautiful and so cute. I really enjoyed it more than I thought I would and I was expecting to enjoy it from the cover alone. Definitely check this one out.
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This was a solid graphic novel. The plot was a little hard to follow, but the side characters on "Topside" were fun. I thought the art was interesting and definitely added to the storytelling element.
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If done correctly, graphic novels are a great format for sci fi. Instead of spending page upon page explaining what a world looks like and a person's role in it, we see it right away. We're immediately put into the setting and can engage direction with the action. We can see connections to our known world in the character's actions rather than being distracted by differences in details. When the protagonist is making repairs, we can see the parallels to our own life. So while the high level concept of this book seems very foreign, once we get past the window dressing it's very relatable.
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This graphic novel shows a group of misfits working together in a strange, and elaborate world. The whole book is colorful with great designs of characters. There are aliens, weird creatures, and detailed backgrounds. I love world building that is just there in the background without explicit explanations. It is an intricate and bizarre world. I enjoyed the comical take on beaurocracy. 



This book was a fun, easy read about finding your own path and diverting from the assigned path. I give this book a 4/5.
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Jo is a technician in a society that lives under the surface of her planet. Like so many of us, Jo lives in a society where infrastructures and systems are in desperate need of some TLC. She understands that she somehow contributes to the destabilization of the planet core, so she is swift to fix things as so much is at stake. Her working this particular day is the one action needed to proverbially burst the dam. What follows next is an adventure that takes her to the “topside” of her planet, a trip seemingly no proper person takes to find a fix for the problem that she accepts as her responsibility. Leaving her underground home means leaving everything she knows to a place that’s dangerous, unfamiliar and just maybe a bust for what she needs to find. Billed as a “wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way,” Topside lives up to that description.

My main criticism of Topside is that the narrative feels rushed going into the second half. While reading I couldn’t help but feel a bit lost, two steps behind gearing up towards the end. While I did enjoy reading Topside, the plot felt muddled before the bright and beautiful ending rights things back in place. I also wanted to feel a deeper kinship with the supporting cast of super cool characters and personalities but that fell flat. A little more backstory would have done wonders as I feel I didn’t really get a chance to get to know them.

If you have some young adults in your life that are at least middle school grade readers, love science fiction and girls in charge leaving home for adventure and to make things right, Topside just might be up their alley. This graphic novel is very much a sci-fi infused trip about a girl with lots of expectations that ultimately get undone with help of the those that end up helping her along the way.
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Topside offered glimpses of a well thought out universe and beautiful art, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me because there wasn’t quite enough backstory.


A wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way.

Topside CoverWhen Jo, a headstrong maintenance technician, makes an error that destabilizes her planet’s core, she only knows one way to fix things: leaving her underground home for a trip to the planet’s dangerous, unruly surface. Soon she’s wandering through deserts, riding on the back of giant beasts, and cutting deals with con artists and bounty hunters. Meanwhile, agents of the core are in hot pursuit. J. N. Monk and Harry Bogosian (co-creators of the web-comic StarHammer) present a wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way. (Goodreads)
Goodreads

I received an eARC of Topside from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I felt like this story needed a prologue, or even a prequel to envelop readers in the world that Monk and Bogosian created in Topside. I loved Bogosian’s illustration, but I struggled to understand why we were seeing what we were. Mechanical shark in a dress? Awesome. Married to a living lightbulb? Sweet! Magic shapeshifting child? Amazing. But I needed more plot-wise.

The large role that bureaucracy played in this was really interesting and something I’d like to have seen delved into a little bit further because that was the only arc in this graphic novel that really made sense to me. It was never really explained why Jo desperately needed to go to the surface or what the problems were in her household that led her to work so much. I also didn’t really get why the other characters were supposed to be on the run.

Frankly, I loved a lot about Topside but it didn’t really come together for me. I’d love to see more work from Monk and Bogosian, especially about the fabulous bounty hunters or Kevin, but I want to see a little more worldbuilding in future work.
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DNF @ 21% 

I seriously couldn't figure out what was going on, the story was all over the place. A complete mess. This was definitely a no for me.
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A fun adventure story, appropriate for my middle schoolers. Interesting art and a few life lessons to be learned for those paying attention. A unique art style makes this graphic novel look a bit different from many of the others geared to young adults. A few places where the story become a little difficult to follow, but IMO that can often be the case with graphic novels. Overall I liked this book, but did not love it. Happy to see my students reading it, but not something I would strongly recommend.
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Unfortunately, I struggled pretty hard with this one. I had a hard time grasping the main plot-line and the way the art was styled just felt a little.. messy? I didn't hate this, but it just didn't really work for me.
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Jo, a technician in the planet's core makes a mistake and heads topside to fix it.  There she makes some friends with strange abilities on her way to find supplies to fix her dying world.  Meanwhile, she is pursued by bureaucrats for not filling out the correct paperwork.  An interesting, all-ages, sci-fi world.  I thought the end got a little wonky and rushed.
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I first want to say how much I loved the world building within this novel. It was absolutely gorgeous and the color palatte was stunning. However, there were times I could not tell at all what was happening in the panels. I dont know why, but sometimes they were so mushed up that I couldn't see what was actually going on. I couldn't read any of the red or green papers because of how blurry they seemed, but I guess It wasn't too important? Either way, cute story, a little confusing with the language used (def not for children because of advanced language). I liked it though!
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The world building in this was pretty strong, and created interesting imagery. Some of the character types, like the shark head robot, seemed kind of out of place. The plot of the story was interesting enough to keep me reading, but I'm not sure I was fully engaged. I found myself wanting to skip some of the dialog. The ending was kind of rushed in my opinion, it didn't feel like it really wrapped up and I was left knowing what "happened" but now sure if I fully understood what really happened. 

Overall, it was decent. I found myself wanting to finish it.
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This graphic novel follows the story of Jo, a young girl who lives on a planet that constantly needs fixing. After screwing up a job she decides to take go on her own to fix her screw up without alerting anyone, but obviously, people find out she travels to the Topside.

Topside world-building and style is exactly what you expect from an outer-space fantasy — weird alien creatures, unexplained superpowers, adventure, and cool technology. The idea and essence of Topside were promising, but it, unfortunately, failed to deliver. The graphic novel had absolutely no plot, or at least it had several plots that did not merge together nor came to a solution. The characters were flat and unmemorable, I felt nothing for them except for the shark lady and the lightbulb dude — but still did not feel enough attachment remember their names.

The main problem was that J.K Monk and Harry Bogosian tried to create this complex world with intertwining story arcs but gave no explanation or conclusion to them. Jo, in particular, set out to fit out the core she damaged (and according to the book’s description it was the planet’s core but it never made that big of a deal) but never actually did in the end? Instead at the end the characters somehow became the protectors of the planet and it is never really explained aside from that. All other goals before that suddenly just vanished.

However, the art style was quite pleasant. It reminded me of a Ghibli style with really round-faced characters, mind-boggling backgrounds, and creatures. It brought back memories of the days I obsessively watched Porco Rosso.

Overall, it is an average graphic novel. It’s worth a read if you want to appreciate the art but not worth it if you’re looking for a well-plotted story.
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I’m bummed to say I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I thought I would. I didn’t find the characters or pacing on the plot to be that engaging. The plot sounded very promising, but I just ended up being kind of bored. I also thought the art style was a bit messy and less compelling than a more polished style.
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This was a really great read! I really enjoyed reading this book, would definitely recommend. This is a good book for all ages.
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A fun and interesting dystopian graphic novel. It kind of reminded me of "The City of Ember" and "Girls' Last Tour, Vol. 1." Overall, I enjoyed the story and the art. I did wish that the characters had a little more depth to them, though. I would have felt more connected to the story if they did.
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My favorite part of this book was the art. The style is beautiful and the coloring is absolutely gorgeous. I was really jiving with the plot and characters at the beginning but as things progressed I felt there wasn't enough explained about what was happening. I think this could have benefited from being a little bit longer in order to flush out the characters and add some more detail to the plot. That being said I would totally read this again and I'd read a continuation or something in the same world.
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Sadly, I didn't love this book as much as I wanted to. I actually liked the simplicity of the art style, and having more pictures do the story telling while having less words to read, but it just felt a little slow and confusing to me. I wish the story would have been a bit stronger and easy to follow. But I did really like the color choices and artwork! :)
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