Page 45 Review by Stephen
"You're so much better at making friends than me, and... I feel like I'm losing you."
"I'm not yours to lose."
Don't be too quick to judge: there are subtleties at work, the behavioural observations are astute and this is a big bag of warmth for your young ones.
Successfully crowd-funded through Kickstarter (such was the level of interest in the title's original appearance as web comics), this will resonate with young readers who are perhaps a little shier than their peers.
I found it very touching in places.
A young girl called Zoe has two close early-teen friends called Robin and Sarah, yet turns down every invitation to visit them at home and stay overnight, no matter how alluring the offer is of sharing their favourite anime.
"Ah, it's okay. I have stuff to do and my Mum will probably say no."
Her cheeks flush red, but why? And why does she presume that her Mum will say no...? It was clever to introduce that so early on.
Then one night in a bright ball of light, so golden that it glows in the sky, an alien crash-lands in Zoe's back garden, takes up residence in the bottom drawer of her dresser and goes to school in the guise of her cousin. Instantly popular, it's not that Star tries to intrude; it's just that her inquisitiveness is natural, her enthusiasm is infectious, and she can see no reason not to start accepting Zoe's friends' invitations while Zoe stays home on her own. I mean, Zoe was invited too - it was her choice to decline.
But really, how would that make you feel?
How would you feel if you were too anxious to express your thoughts and feelings on any given topic - if you felt uncomfortable in a crowd but really not that more confident with far fewer around - and suddenly, everyone in your tightly knit group is hanging off your new friend's every word?
How would you feel about that, if you were shy, even when Star is consistent in her kindness and solicitous of Zoe's feelings? I think you might feel a little jealous and left out, even when no one is excluding you for five seconds. Worse still, I think you might feel even more inhibited, inadequate.
This is so well balanced.
In addition, the tone is masterfully controlled right from the get-go, a bright burst of initial colour to invite you in followed by sombre grey tones once Zoe's turned down that first invitation. The light fades fast as she sits alone at the bus shelter, then on the bus. Home is in half-light, like a limbo, as Zoe treads water while her parents converse.
But then the night sky erupts to spectacular effect, for a quite different new light is about to enter Zoe's world and all will be well in the end!
Alice Clarke works at Dave's Comics in Brighton. You really must pop in whenever you're down south. I'm so very fond of them: one of my five favourite comic shops in the UK!
For more "alien lady lands on Earth and lives in the world of humans", please see the three volumes of Mark Oakley's more mischievous, mirth-inducing STARDROP.