Friday, April 10, 2015

Last of the Sandwalkers

Last of the Sandwalkers is graphic novel that tackles much. It is an adventure, a guide to insect life, and full of humor. The story involves a band of scientific explorers who venture out from their home to explore the desert. They initially think that beetles are the Earth's sole life form, but they get disabused of that notion when they find various skeletons and encounter weird feathered creatures that try to eat them. I could go through the cast of characters, but it would be simpler if you just looked at their introduction pages below:
Even though those pages above are not really telling much of how the story goes, they do capture much of what makes this book funny and informative. Also, I will warn readers not to put too much trust in Professor Owen, because he is up to no good at all.

I found the narrative itself very compelling, with strong characters, good plot twists, and lots of action and suspense. It has some fantastical elements, and the beetles act a lot like human beings, but overall it balances the facts with fiction well. Also, the artwork is at once attractive and energetic. Just look at the eye-popping detail in this action sequence:
Birds are jerks.
This book's creator Jay Hosler works as a biologist and cartoonist at Juniata College. He has created multiple graphic novels about various scientific topics, including Clan Apis (about the lives of bees), The Sandwalk Adventures (about Charles Darwin), and Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth. He talks more about his work on this book in this interview. He also blogs about his various works here.

The reviews I have read about this book have been largely positive. Publishers Weekly wrote that the book "mingles themes of family, forgiveness, and freedom of ideas, and even manages to make big-eyed, mandibled crawlers emotive without getting too cartoony." Kirkus Reviews summed up, "Hosler’s sincere excitement in both the pursuit of knowledge and the power of comics makes these bugs eminently memorable." Kara at Good Imaginations had some reservations about it, but also admitted "I think there is a lot of good here."

Last of the Sandwalkers was published by First Second, and they have a preview and much more available here.

Thank you, Gina, for the review copy!

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