Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park

Saturn Apartments Volume 1, by Hisae Iwaoka

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saturn apartments iwaokaIn the distant future, humanity has evacuated the Earth, but it is not the scenario you might think. The empty planet has been declared a nature preserve and is more beautiful than ever now that humans live in the orbiting habitat ring. Those wealthy enough to live on the upper levels get a front row seat to the planet—and the sunlight—but people on the lower levels live in the dark.

Mitsu is proud to have earned his middle-school diploma, but he’s eager to take up his father’s profession of window washing, possibly the most under-appreciated profession in the ring. How would anyone see sunlight if the washers didn’t march onto the outside of the ring and wipe the windows down? However, the job is not without its dangers; meteorites could strike, atmospheric suits could malfunction, or a tether could break. Mitsu learned this lesson when his father disappeared five years ago on a job. Risks aside, Mitsu is excited and determined to begin his career. After all, window washers get the extra perk of getting closer to the Earth than anyone else.

This is a beautiful science fiction story, and takes the idea of an evacuated Earth in a direction I had never read before. Instead of a barren, used-up wasteland, the planet is a lush glowing ball of life. The characters are in utter awe of their old home. They speak about it in a way that makes me want to go outside and hug a squirrel. The story creates a sense of longing for the planet that is extended to every other aspect of the plot, whether it be a longing for love, friendship, wealth, or an idea of home. The tone of this graphic novel is quiet and introspective. Every single character is rich and layered. The art work is simply stunning. So far, I’ve only read the first volume, but I’m hooked and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Saturn Apartments (Volume 1).

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