An epic, exciting sci-fi graphic novel with romance at the heart of the story, as it explores the classic Empire vs Rebels theme.
This is Across a Field of Starlight by Blue Delliquanti.
(All images: bluedelliquanti.com)
Released a year ago in February 2022, I only just discovered this book when I saw it in a Little Free Library book exchange.
Firstly, the illustrations are gorgeous; they grab your attention and don’t let go. As I was reading this, my twelve-year-old son was already asking if he could read it next because “it looks so interesting”. The attention to detail in the illustrations is amazing, and successfully whisks you away to this other world where space travel is routine, with exciting technology, against the backdrop of intergalactic war.
Yes, the whole Empire vs Rebels theme may remind you of a certain successful space opera franchise, but Delliquanti takes that theme and explores it in a totally different way.
This is the story of an against-all-odds romance between two non-binary teens, Lu and Fassen, as they navigate their lives through war. Fassen is a member of the resistance, fighting against the Empire, whereas Lu is from a more peaceful community where the focus is on science, exploration and being your true self.
What I particularly love about the characters in this book is the high level of representation. Many of them are non-binary, for example: we have people with facial hair who refer to themselves as she/her, and characters who are referred to as he/him that talk about using hormones in order to maintain a more masculine appearance. Similarly, we have characters with different skin tones, different races, different sizes. Lu, for instance, is overweight with pink dreads.
Here’s the blurb on the back:
When they were kids, Fassen’s fighter spaceship crash-landed on a planet that Lu’s survey force was exploring. It was a forbidden meeting between a kid from a war-focused resistance movement and a kid whose community and planet are dedicated to peace and secrecy.
Lu and Fassen are from different worlds and separate solar systems. But their friendship keeps them in each other’s orbit as they grow up. They stay in contact in secret as their communities are increasingly threatened by the omnipresent, ever-expanding empire.
As the empire begins a new attack against Fassen’s people–and discovers Lu’s in the process–the two of them have the chance to reunite at last. They finally are able to be together…but at what cost?
I’m very intrigued to see what my twelve-year-old thinks of it when he reads it.
Great stuff, and the story reminds me of this song, Skipping on Stars by Todrick Hall.