Publisher: First Second
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Lucy and her family are scientists, determined to prove that there is more to the world outside of the Oasis. They are also beetles, the kind that write books, run restaurants, and do scientific research. As they set out across the desert, Lucy knows she could discover something important, but soon learns there are much bigger things out there to deal with.
I don't know what I expected when I started this book. A quick flip and the synopsis promised an subject matter not often (if ever) drawn in graphic novels. What I got was a fantastic adventure full of scientific fact, fascinating characters, and a lot of winks at the reader. No surprise on the science front since Jay Hosler is himself an entomologist and biology professor. He has hit the enviable jackpot of also being a cartoonist and storyteller. There is every kind of beetle in this book too, some even include their latin names.
The real gem is that within the heavy scientific facts, there is a masterfully crafted story. Lucy's family is a bit of a hodge podge of beetles, which makes it clear that Lucy must be adopted. This isn't spoon fed to the reader though, as Hosler leaves the pictures and the things that aren't said to help explain. Their adventure into the desert includes a betrayal, one that almost ends up getting them killed. The reader will of course recognize things like a human skeleton, birds, bats, and other various bugs, but we are on this journey with Lucy and her family as they discover these things and their uses. What is amber? What history has been lost to time due to religious zealots who want to keep the past obscured? How are these Oasis beetles related to the ones they meet out in the world?
Then we have to add in the fact that these are technologically advanced beetles. Yes, you read that right. Robot beetles, scanners, cities, jet packs. These beetles have been rather productive during their time at the Oasis.
Fun, fascinating, and one of the few books out there that could really make the claim for originality, I think this book has a variety of uses the first being pure unadulterated entertainment.