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Forager: The Graphic Novel

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In this comic book/graphic novel, two parents try to save their crumbling marriage by taking their six-year-old daughter, Ellie, on a week’s vacation aboard a luxury Star Liner orbiting Earth and Mars. Ellie is a precocious child who also happens to fall somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum. Soon after reaching orbit, Ellie begins hearing voices from what she calls angels, In this comic book/graphic novel, two parents try to save their crumbling marriage by taking their six-year-old daughter, Ellie, on a week’s vacation aboard a luxury Star Liner orbiting Earth and Mars. Ellie is a precocious child who also happens to fall somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum. Soon after reaching orbit, Ellie begins hearing voices from what she calls angels, claiming they are “coming for our world.” As the days pass, Ellie alarmingly slips in and out of a catatonic state for short periods of time, each time explaining that the angels are getting closer. Are the angels real? Is Ellie suffering a mental breakdown…or is this first contact with an alien intelligence?


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In this comic book/graphic novel, two parents try to save their crumbling marriage by taking their six-year-old daughter, Ellie, on a week’s vacation aboard a luxury Star Liner orbiting Earth and Mars. Ellie is a precocious child who also happens to fall somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum. Soon after reaching orbit, Ellie begins hearing voices from what she calls angels, In this comic book/graphic novel, two parents try to save their crumbling marriage by taking their six-year-old daughter, Ellie, on a week’s vacation aboard a luxury Star Liner orbiting Earth and Mars. Ellie is a precocious child who also happens to fall somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum. Soon after reaching orbit, Ellie begins hearing voices from what she calls angels, claiming they are “coming for our world.” As the days pass, Ellie alarmingly slips in and out of a catatonic state for short periods of time, each time explaining that the angels are getting closer. Are the angels real? Is Ellie suffering a mental breakdown…or is this first contact with an alien intelligence?

30 review for Forager: The Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Pramik

    This short comic/graphic novel (maybe graphic novella due to its length?) put me in a bind and I debated over whether to award it three or two stars. In the end, I settled on two though it's honestly more like 2.5 stars. That's not to say I disliked Forager. For starters, the artwork is bright and colorful, which adds to the story's overall positive outlook and upbeat tone. This isn't a gritty space opera; instead, it presents a living world of color. While some of the artwork might border on This short comic/graphic novel (maybe graphic novella due to its length?) put me in a bind and I debated over whether to award it three or two stars. In the end, I settled on two though it's honestly more like 2.5 stars. That's not to say I disliked Forager. For starters, the artwork is bright and colorful, which adds to the story's overall positive outlook and upbeat tone. This isn't a gritty space opera; instead, it presents a living world of color. While some of the artwork might border on being too cartoon-like for more seasoned graphic novel readers, it certainly isn't childish or amateurish. Ellie, the chief protagonist, is a sweet little girl who is mentally in tune with an alien race of "angels" who seek to benefit mankind. I applaud the writers for allowing a young lady with a disability (in this case Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder) to serve as the heroine. Normally, "diverse books" tend to annoy me because they add "diversity" (a term I'm loosely defining here) as a means to either make (read: preach) social commentary without consequence or add as many token characters as possible. But this isn't the case in Forager. Ellie's disability seems to have enabled her to communicate telepathically with the aliens when no one else can; thus, she's not just a "diverse" character for mere show - her disability becomes her biggest asset for the other characters and her world. Those positives being said, I thought Forager had a promising storyline but just didn't expand on some of its central ideas and, hence, felt like a prequel or an outline for a larger work. Probably the biggest issue for me comes through Ellie's ability to communicate with the aliens. Likewise, Ellie is able to communicate with an unborn child though we're never told why or how. I assume in both cases it's because she struggles to socialize with others and becomes an inwardly-drawn child, hence her mind is more adept at communicating via telepathy than face-to-face. But that's just my assumption as the story never explains how or why it's possible. For this to be a big factor in the story, it's presented more as a fact to be accepted rather than a facet to be explained. Likewise, the other characters' willingness to believe Ellie seemed a bit too quick for me. Again, I think this story's length works against it. To heighten the dramatic tension and add a sense of realism, perhaps there needed to be some characters who didn't entirely believe what Ellie was saying or doing, either as a young girl or as a grown woman. Otherwise, the other characters struck me as a bit too quick on the uptake. Another small annoyance for me was Ellie's parents, who are tropes and don't really branch out past these parameters. Joan, her mother, is the typical workaholic and pragmatist; and Glenn, her father, is a science fiction author who believes in the impossible. (Yes, you read that correctly - a sci-fi author is a character in a work of sci-fi. I did have to fight to not roll my eyes at that, I'll confess.) Joan and Glenn balance each other out due to their differences but their banter seems to be nothing but bickering. Once more, I sense if Forager was a longer work, I might have gotten to know more about why Joan was a workaholic or why Glenn was willing to suspend his disbelief at times. Instead, I didn't feel they got a chance to be expanded as characters. Even Ellie, who is the lead, seems boxed in by just delivering heavy doses of exposition, especially as the story progresses, and less reliant on action to administer in-depth development. Content-wise, I sense Forager is for an older young adult crowd and beyond due to some minor but non-pervasive language and nearly-there nude art (granted these are very isolated moments, usually not in a sexual context, and are drawn to obscure the more sensitive parts of the anatomy with either surrounding elements or shadows). There is no violence but there is talk of death, destruction, and one character is presumed dead. Overall, it's a clean read but, despite it's bright, colorful artwork, I wouldn't recommend it for younger readers. Overall, Forager was a fun little read but it left me wanting more in terms of world building and character development. It's possible there might be further stories involving these characters, but even that that, this doesn't feel like it entirely sets the stage, especially as far as Ellie's telepathic abilities are concerned. In the end, comic book and graphic novel fans hunting for a fast, colorful, sci-fi read that, to its credit, is engaging, should probably check this out but be willing to accept some story elements "as is" without further explanation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    I believe I should be upfront when entering a review about a Kickstarter that I helped to fund, as this is one that I contributed to. While this is very much a one and done story Palmiotti and Gray created a believable science fiction universe where more stories could be told. While maybe not "hard" science fiction by the standards of some the story deals well with many science fiction features in a realistic way. In particular the matter of time and FTL travel, and environmental issues that I believe I should be upfront when entering a review about a Kickstarter that I helped to fund, as this is one that I contributed to. While this is very much a one and done story Palmiotti and Gray created a believable science fiction universe where more stories could be told. While maybe not "hard" science fiction by the standards of some the story deals well with many science fiction features in a realistic way. In particular the matter of time and FTL travel, and environmental issues that affect the Earth (and not in a preachy way). I also enjoyed that our protagonist, Ellie, has Asperger syndrome, albeit a mild case. The syndrome plays apart in the early portion of the story, and I appreciated seeing a differently abled person portrayed as a useful member of society. Some might compare the later half of the tale to the movie Avatar. Please keep in mind Avatar was not using any original science fiction tropes, and... I think Forager does a better job of telling a story.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Millguy

    I googled the history of this book. The internet tells me "840 backers pledged $27,043" but I think the comic was mostly made before the Kickstarter was done, so the Kickstarter didn't fund the production. The book was Kickstarted as an "All age book" but the main theme seemed to be about parents worried about their daughter, and largely takes the adult's point of view, so it doesn't seem like a book with a lot of kid appeal to me. All ages to me means a story with themes that will appeal to kids I googled the history of this book. The internet tells me "840 backers pledged $27,043" but I think the comic was mostly made before the Kickstarter was done, so the Kickstarter didn't fund the production. The book was Kickstarted as an "All age book" but the main theme seemed to be about parents worried about their daughter, and largely takes the adult's point of view, so it doesn't seem like a book with a lot of kid appeal to me. All ages to me means a story with themes that will appeal to kids and adults, not just "This story doesn't happen to contain sex or violence". I found this comic to be boring. The characters are thin. There isn't much conflict to speak of, and the conflict that existed didn't create much genuine tension. I'm not in principle against an optimistic science fiction book. But if you're going to do something like this you'd better have a less generic set of characters and a more visual set of storytelling ideas. (This story felt like it largely consisted of people standing around chatting, even though in theory it's about people exploring space). The art by Steven Cummings is excellent, and the coloring is good.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    This was ok, but not great...the story line jumps around quite a bit more than I was expecting and while you can sort of fill in the gaps, I was really looking forward to something a bit more linear. But hey, it was on sale when I got it, so it's all good.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Darth

    ZERO FUCKING STARS! Wow. Just fucking wow. This is trash in so many ways I don't know where to begin. First, apparently autistic people are, like, super special. So special they're basically Jesus. Two, when they go to a planet for the first time they wear masks for something called "Columbus Syndrome"...cool, right? Wrong. Because the masks are meant to *protect them* against diseases, not the other way around. So why the fuck name it after Columbus at all? I thought they were being clever and ZERO FUCKING STARS! Wow. Just fucking wow. This is trash in so many ways I don't know where to begin. First, apparently autistic people are, like, super special. So special they're basically Jesus. Two, when they go to a planet for the first time they wear masks for something called "Columbus Syndrome"...cool, right? Wrong. Because the masks are meant to *protect them* against diseases, not the other way around. So why the fuck name it after Columbus at all? I thought they were being clever and were going to say it was to protect the fucking planet against diseases humans carry, you know, because that's what happened with Natives and Columbus and since *they* were the ones colonizing the planet *they* would be Columbus in this metaphor. Three, the main character, who is a super special twee white girl, literally states they have a super huge diverse collection of people on board to help colonize planets and for genetic diversity...and every fucking single goddamn character is a white American. I don't know what I was expecting. Same dude wrote Wayward and he's just a yellow fevered weeb who lives in Japan...because? Seriously why do white people who have ZERO reason to be in Japan feel such a fucking need to live there, like they're entitled to the culture and to their obsession simply because they think since they love Japan they aren't doing any harm, when really they're just racist, problematic assholes who perpetuate Orientalism.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Gordon

    I really wish this book was better than it is given the neat story concepts, strong art, and inclusion of a lead with Asperger's. Unfortunately, it's just too rushed to really give the characters and narrative development. The story starts with a family consisting of bickering mom and dad with little girl heading on vacation on a luxury spacecraft. Little girl, Ellie, starts hearing "angels" which turn out to be aliens who want to help Earth develop. Over a decade later, the aliens still only I really wish this book was better than it is given the neat story concepts, strong art, and inclusion of a lead with Asperger's. Unfortunately, it's just too rushed to really give the characters and narrative development. The story starts with a family consisting of bickering mom and dad with little girl heading on vacation on a luxury spacecraft. Little girl, Ellie, starts hearing "angels" which turn out to be aliens who want to help Earth develop. Over a decade later, the aliens still only speak through Ellie (even though they can make other speakers) and take off with her to explore new worlds. Even though they find a new world to colonize (and I should mention that flippantly saying that human colonisation is going to be permanently pre-industrial is not something you don't discuss!!!), because of techno-babble, they return to Earth over 800 years later and humanity is dying. The aliens took a colony ship and technobabble suggests they've evolved past humanity, but the remaining humans all got into giant wars and destroyed the world. So Ellie and her crew (all chosen to provide a genetic foundation for new humanity without any of them knowing this) head off to the unknown to start again. It's not a bad sci-fi outline, but there's little exploration of the themes and challenges so it makes for a superficial read for a story with a lot of interesting and controversial ideas. I would have also loved for Ellie's Asperger's to have been explored more in depth, but instead it was just window dressing. All in all, Foranger is an okay read with fantastic art that would really benefit from being a lot longer than it is.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul Flagg

    I’m not too crazy about comics, though I have read quite a few manga through the years. I was excited to win a free copy of this book because it’s outside of my normal reading comfort zone but still looked interesting. I really enjoy fantasy novels, not quite as much sci-fi, but I found “Forager” to be very interesting because the creators of this comic create a believable setting, in which they portray real-life issues that make this an even more interesting reading experience. One thing I I’m not too crazy about comics, though I have read quite a few manga through the years. I was excited to win a free copy of this book because it’s outside of my normal reading comfort zone but still looked interesting. I really enjoy fantasy novels, not quite as much sci-fi, but I found “Forager” to be very interesting because the creators of this comic create a believable setting, in which they portray real-life issues that make this an even more interesting reading experience. One thing I really liked about this comic was the basic, black-and-white sketches of characters at the end. I’d recommend this to those who particularly enjoy both comics and sci-fi. *I won a free copy of “Forager” through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Disclaimer: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and it was provided to me via Amazon Publishing. I am reviewing it as a courtesy and as a thank you. This graphic novel is just so gorgeous. There was so much worldbuilding packed into one slim volume. I'm not a big reader of graphic novels, so I might be lacking in experience but this is really just so good. The art is amazing. My only complaint is the Young Autistic Child is Conduit for Strange Happenings trope. But it's not entirely an Disclaimer: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and it was provided to me via Amazon Publishing. I am reviewing it as a courtesy and as a thank you. This graphic novel is just so gorgeous. There was so much worldbuilding packed into one slim volume. I'm not a big reader of graphic novels, so I might be lacking in experience but this is really just so good. The art is amazing. My only complaint is the Young Autistic Child is Conduit for Strange Happenings trope. But it's not entirely an integral part of the plot, so I can let it slide. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun and beautiful adventure to the stars!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    Public library copy. While I liked the story and art, I expected a lot of shoot-em-up sci-fi action and this work had none of that. The production overall was very nice from art to colors to the cardstock. I'd nitpick that some of the early arguments between the married couple weren't exactly consistent in terms of holding a position, but perhaps that was intentional rather than am oversight. I haven't seen the movie the Martian yet (as I type this) but maybe fans of that movie might appreciate Public library copy. While I liked the story and art, I expected a lot of shoot-em-up sci-fi action and this work had none of that. The production overall was very nice from art to colors to the cardstock. I'd nitpick that some of the early arguments between the married couple weren't exactly consistent in terms of holding a position, but perhaps that was intentional rather than am oversight. I haven't seen the movie the Martian yet (as I type this) but maybe fans of that movie might appreciate another sci-fi drama about journey over all out action and violence.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dolores

    A couple with a troubled marriage decide a family vacation will help. So they head off on a luxury space cruise with their 6-year-old daughter Ellie, who falls somewhere on the spectrum. Shortly after the cruise begins, Ellie begins to claim that she hears angels, causing friction between her parents. She begins to have seizures and to lapse into a catatonic-like state, which increasingly alarms her parents. Are the angels real? And if they are, what exactly are they--and what do they want? This A couple with a troubled marriage decide a family vacation will help. So they head off on a luxury space cruise with their 6-year-old daughter Ellie, who falls somewhere on the spectrum. Shortly after the cruise begins, Ellie begins to claim that she hears angels, causing friction between her parents. She begins to have seizures and to lapse into a catatonic-like state, which increasingly alarms her parents. Are the angels real? And if they are, what exactly are they--and what do they want? This is a fast-moving science fiction adventure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    The cover shows this girl that has the ability to speak to aliens. We expect her to be the main character, but the story is told from the parents point of view, we never get to see her doing the really cool stuff, going places, growing up, facing problems, communication with the other aliens. This story has the wrong point of view. The art is amazing, though. spoilers ahead The end was abrupt and underwhelming because we sit with the parents for weeks on the beach while she goes somewhere in the The cover shows this girl that has the ability to speak to aliens. We expect her to be the main character, but the story is told from the parents point of view, we never get to see her doing the really cool stuff, going places, growing up, facing problems, communication with the other aliens. This story has the wrong point of view. The art is amazing, though. spoilers ahead The end was abrupt and underwhelming because we sit with the parents for weeks on the beach while she goes somewhere in the water to do whatever that we never see at all.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nastassja Riemermann

    Deals with some tough isssues Although it really only skimmed the surface, it hurt a little bit to think about what it would be like to have nearly everyone you ever knew be centuries dead in the span of far less than a year. At least this nuclear family was able to stay together. As others mentioned, I feel like this story could be much more enjoyable in a longer and more flushed-out format, but it was very good for the length it had to work with.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natille

    I really enjoyed the story line and graphics. It didn't go off base and was easy to read. Beautiful artwork. I was instantly captivated by the creepy little girl and what was going on, so it definitely captured my attention. Once I sat down to read it the pages went by fast. I received this free from first-read on Goodreads.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marc Jentzsch

    Short, sweet first contact story. Vibrant and intriguing. I can't say too much without spoiling it, but it was well worth the read. Some of the author's observations are also well worth reading and shed light on the choices made in this story. A great respite from the color-by-numbers first contact tales we often get (and don't get me wrong, I really like those).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Parabola

    This is a GoodReads first-reads review. A refreshingly positive take on the science fiction genre. Instead of malicious alien life, a girl acts as a speaker for friendly aliens named Engelys. A spectacular look into the OTHER outcome of alien contact with fantastic art and a fully fleshed-out story. I really enjoyed this graphic novel and hope to see more like it in the future.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lady Entropy

    It's been a long time since I found a book where the ending cost it a star. It's not that it's a bad ending or one I don't like. It's the fact that it's a hasty, pointless, open ended ending and it feels more like this should be a "backstory" free story, rather than a full narrative. And that makes me sad, because I could really have liked this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ricky Kimsey

    First Contact This is a first contact story with a twist. The one who makes contact with an alien race is a young girl with Aspergers,so it's great to see a positive portrayal of someone with this condition The ending of this graphic felt like a start of a series so possibly there will be more Forager in the future.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    We drawn with a nice modern style. the story was very interesting, a unique take on space exploration and first contact. Plenty of stuff to think about. I didn't care for the parent squabbles, even after decades. Quite worth reading.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Felicidad Tan

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads Program in exchange for an honest review. I like the artwork of this book and I really think there's still a room for improvement with the plot. Fans of aliens will probably enjoy this book. It is worth checking out.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    It needed to be longer. I admire the artwork and some parts of this, but everything moves so quickly. At one point is just hops like 10 years ahead. Nothing in-between. If you read this, you'll see why it's frustrating.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    I did like this story. A little sparse and very quick pace, but i did overall enjoy the story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    well worth checking out. Good quality paper and ink. Great start to story line. Thanks for this goodreads free

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laurian Vega

    The plot was interesting. It reminded me of Interstellar. The graphic style wasn't one I normally enjoy (I prefer gritty v. shiny) so this was a pleasant surprise.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laine

    an interesting concept but populated with one-dimensional characters. art was decent, with great colours though.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Crisp, amazing graphics and cool story. A breath of fresh air to read this when my normal reads do not have graphics. Well done! I received this copy through Goodreads Firstreads.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Míla Brousil

    There is a thin line between fleshed-out sci-fi story and something that looks like it was made by Church of Scientology.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pavandeep Singh

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Graci Zethraeus

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