By:  J. N. Monk
Harry Bogosian

$20.99 Paperback
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Lerner Publishing Group

Limited ***

9.0 X 6.0 in
200 pg

YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Comics & Graphic Novels / Science Fiction
YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Comics & Graphic Novels / Action & Adventure
YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Science Fiction / Space Opera
YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2021 Nominated

"An intriguing mix of adventure and wonder and the mundane, both quietly epic and very personal. Wonderful art. Highly recommended."—Jeff VanderMeer, AnnihilationOther Print

"Thoughtful, woke, and enjoyably propulsive. The world Monk and Bogosian describe is terrible, but such an enjoyable place to spend an afternoon."—Zander Cannon, KaijumaxOther Print

"Vibrant and fun, Topside blasts off on a colorful journey across an alien world."—Katie Shanahan, Silly KingdomOther Print

"Josephine, born and raised in the Core, is now one of the employee-citizens responsible for keeping the Core running. It's not an easy task, thanks to a disintegrating infrastructure and a chronic lack of resources. When she makes a mistake on a job that causes a system failure, Josephine goes topside in an effort to obtain the material she needs to make the repair. Teaming up with a couple of con artists and bounty hunters, Josephine and her new compatriots race to find a hidden cache of supplies, with agents from the Core hot on their tails. Half the fun of this story is following the characters to their final destination. As quest stories go, the world building in this one is impressive. Both Topside and the Core feel fully realized, with wordless panels full of imaginative creatures, a diverse cast of expressive characters, and strong, evocative colors doing much of the storytelling. A dystopian sf graphic novel perfect for readers new to the genre."—BooklistJournal

"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."—School Library JournalJournal

"Topside is an engrossing adventure buoyed by lush sci-fi landscapes and unlikely friendships. Monk and Bogosian have crafted an imaginative odyssey that calls to mind the works of Hayao Miyazaki."—Kristen Gudsnuk, Making FriendsOther Print

"When a small mistake quickly snowballs, a young girl of color braves the strange surface of her planet to prove she can set things right.In a crumbling subterranean society like the Interior, repair technicians are essential, and Jo Wilson is one of the best. Skilled, vigilant, and committed to doing her job well and without help, Jo wants nothing more than to demonstrate her competence and expand her opportunities to fix what is broken. So when a minor mistake turns into a major problem, Jo is determined to rectify the situation on her own (and ideally before any Interior agents take notice) by traveling to the planet's ungoverned surface. But with forged papers, a clandestine mission, a con artist guide, and bounty hunters in pursuit, trouble is inevitable. Monk (editor: Enough Space for Everyone Else, 2016) has crafted a work that demonstrates the dynamic narrative balance so distinctive of science fiction in which a technology- and action-heavy plot is driven by thoughtful character motivations. Bogosian's (Kringlewart and the Crookedest Christmas Tree, 2016) art follows through with visual depth for a planetary setting that literally comes alive and a refreshingly gender-expansive and racially diverse cast. Some readers may be a bit disappointed with a conclusion that falls short in narrative complexity, but the likelihood of sequels for further exploration is an effective balm. Immersive, mysterious, and just the right amount of trippy."—Kirkus ReviewsJournal

"Maintenance tech Jo likes to go it alone when she takes on repair assignments from the Interior administration in her underground world, so there's no one to help (or blame) when she accidentally damages one of the power relays she's working on. If she can get her hands on enough of the energy source Oblexium, she can fix it, but that means she has to go Topside to find the Oblexium cache. Of course, that mission goes awry as well, and now she's stuck Topside, mixed up with a few shady characters, pursued by bounty hunters, and unsure if she's ever going to see her subterranean home again. Monk and Bogosian skillfully use the conventions of the graphic novel to convey both the universality of a quest story and the specific and utter weirdness of Jo's home planet. Loud colors and disorienting perspectives place the world fully in the realm of the other, while key plot details are embedded in even some of the smallest panels, requiring the reader's full attention in piecing together the whole story from picture and text. Although some of the characters aren't fully developed beyond their plot necessity, Jo herself is effectively presented as a girl who relishes solitude but yearns for connection. This would certainly serve as a stepping stone for readers outgrowing Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl series."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's BooksJournal

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

J. N. Monk is a Midwesterner with a song in their heart. They've lived in a lighthouse, an active volcano, and Florida but always return to the heartland. They love travel, superheroes, food, and cats and wish that everyone knew the lyrics and steps to the musical number in their soul. They live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Harry Bogosian is a freelance Illustrator and comic artist from New York City. Since graduating Pratt Institute in 2009 he has drawn monsters for video game companies, done freelance work for books, and nowadays primarily makes comics and graphic novels. There is nothing he enjoys more than making new fantastical worlds, and filling them with his creations.