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Topside

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A wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way. When Jo, a headstrong maintenance technician, makes an error that destabilizes her planet's core, she only knows one way to fix things: leaving her underground home for a trip to the planet's dangerous, unruly surface. Soon she's wandering through deserts, riding on the back of A wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way. When Jo, a headstrong maintenance technician, makes an error that destabilizes her planet's core, she only knows one way to fix things: leaving her underground home for a trip to the planet's dangerous, unruly surface. Soon she's wandering through deserts, riding on the back of giant beasts, and cutting deals with con artists and bounty hunters. Meanwhile, agents of the core are in hot pursuit. J. N. Monk and Harry Bogosian (co-creators of the web-comic StarHammer) present a wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way.


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A wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way. When Jo, a headstrong maintenance technician, makes an error that destabilizes her planet's core, she only knows one way to fix things: leaving her underground home for a trip to the planet's dangerous, unruly surface. Soon she's wandering through deserts, riding on the back of A wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way. When Jo, a headstrong maintenance technician, makes an error that destabilizes her planet's core, she only knows one way to fix things: leaving her underground home for a trip to the planet's dangerous, unruly surface. Soon she's wandering through deserts, riding on the back of giant beasts, and cutting deals with con artists and bounty hunters. Meanwhile, agents of the core are in hot pursuit. J. N. Monk and Harry Bogosian (co-creators of the web-comic StarHammer) present a wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way.

30 review for Topside

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    Unfortunately, I struggled pretty hard with this one. I had a hard time grasping the main plot-line and the way the art was styled just felt a little.. messy? I didn't hate this, but it just didn't really work for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    Jo, a technician in the planet's core makes a mistake and heads topside to fix it. There she makes some friends with strange abilities on her way to find supplies to fix her dying world. Meanwhile, she is pursued by bureaucrats for not filling out the correct paperwork. An interesting, all-ages, sci-fi world. I thought the end got a little wonky and rushed. Received a review copy from Graphic Universe and NetGalley. All thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is a fun little romp, an adventure story on two levels. On one level is Jo, just trying to fix a problem that she caused before she is found out, and the bureaucrats that are trying to catch her, because they have discovered that she is "topside" (on the surface of the planet) where she is not authorized to be. Illustrations are quite fun, and the shark in the dress, who is a bounty hunter, also ads to the fun. It is a story of taking responsibility and having to trust, even people who are This is a fun little romp, an adventure story on two levels. On one level is Jo, just trying to fix a problem that she caused before she is found out, and the bureaucrats that are trying to catch her, because they have discovered that she is "topside" (on the surface of the planet) where she is not authorized to be. Illustrations are quite fun, and the shark in the dress, who is a bounty hunter, also ads to the fun. It is a story of taking responsibility and having to trust, even people who are untrustworthy, and are con artists, or bounty hunters. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brianna - Coffee Books and Bullet Journals

    This was a perfectly fine graphic novel. I am loving dystopian, post apocalyptic stories right now, but there was just no set up or world building in this one. I didn’t get enough backstory on the side characters which made it so I didn’t really care about any of them.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elyse

    NetGalley ARC. I enjoyed this science fiction comic! The illustrations are alright, very simple, but I like the style of less dialogue, more pictures! You can learn a whole lot without saying a word. Jo is a low on the totem pole technician on a planet (future Earth?) where topside is deserted and everyone lives underground. She sends herself on a mission and you must read it to see where it leads! And you won't believe it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chessa

    I really wanted to love this, but I found it just okay. The world building is strange and the art was honestly not my fave - I found myself wondering many times if/what I was missing because of confusingly drawn panels. The whole thing just felt a little bit slapped together and not super cohesive - I think I needed more connective tissue between plot points. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy to review - this did not affect my review, etc.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    3.5. A weak ending, but what a journey to get there. Some really outstanding worldbuilding that's cohesive with the author's thesis here, which is all too rare. A clever fusion of scifi, cyberpunk, and post-apocalyptic trappings - think Adventure Time by way of Amazon.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steff Pasciuti

    Topside by J. N. Monk and illustrated by Harry Bogosian was interesting. I honestly left it feeling kind of thrown about the whole thing and not really sure what I had just read. A space adventure on a far away planet that features a technician going "topside" in order to fix a mistake that damaged her planet's core. Many people live beneath the surface of the planet and her travel to the surface sparks a wave of panic among the leaders of the society and a massive manhunt for the missing Topside by J. N. Monk and illustrated by Harry Bogosian was interesting. I honestly left it feeling kind of thrown about the whole thing and not really sure what I had just read. A space adventure on a far away planet that features a technician going "topside" in order to fix a mistake that damaged her planet's core. Many people live beneath the surface of the planet and her travel to the surface sparks a wave of panic among the leaders of the society and a massive manhunt for the missing technician. Honestly, I feel like Topside was kind of half-completed and thrown together. The whole thing felt very rushed, from the world building (vague and confusing) to the plot (pointless at times and filled with annoying conveniences) to the characters (very much caricatures). In so many ways it felt like the elements were all thrown together with the hope that they would make a cohesive and engaging story, but instead resulted in one of the most confusing point A, point B plotted stories I've ever read. I didn't hate this story, but I really didn't like it, either. I felt the conclusion was a bit ridiculous and the story as a whole just wasn't all that engaging or interesting. The characters who weren't incredibly annoying were quiet and rather dull. The motivations behind the antagonist were minimal which ultimately resulted in a "convenient" moment within the story when the conflict was resolved. And I think, ultimately, I just didn't understand the point. Of anything. The artwork was nice, but nothing exceptional, which ultimately leaves me feeling as though this story is just below average. Nothing about it really stands out to me, except perhaps a single character who was the equivalent of an alien lamp, simply due to how interesting  found his existence to be. Overall, I simply couldn't manage to get past how underdeveloped everything felt. I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. | Instagram | Twitter | Reader Fox Blog | Bloglovin’ | Facebook |

  9. 5 out of 5

    Book Pairings (Laci Long)

    I’m bummed to say I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I thought I would. I didn’t find the characters or pacing on the plot to be that engaging. The plot sounded very promising, but I just ended up being kind of bored. I also thought the art style was a bit messy and less compelling than a more polished style.

  10. 4 out of 5

    FSSTBlog

    TOPSIDE AUGUST 27, 2019 Authors: J.N. Monk and Harry Bogosian Year: 2019 ISBN: 9781541561120 Publisher: Graphics Universe Goodreads Rating: 4/5 stars Content Warnings: Mild violence Purchased or Received Copy: Received copy from Netgalley Topside takes place on a planet with two separate populations. Josephine “Jo” Wilson lives in the Interior, a subterranean society that races to keep up with the crumbling technology keeping their homes together. After making a serious error in repairing a core, Jo TOPSIDE AUGUST 27, 2019 Authors: J.N. Monk and Harry Bogosian Year: 2019 ISBN: 9781541561120 Publisher: Graphics Universe ™ Goodreads Rating: 4/5 stars Content Warnings: Mild violence Purchased or Received Copy: Received copy from Netgalley Topside takes place on a planet with two separate populations. Josephine “Jo” Wilson lives in the Interior, a subterranean society that races to keep up with the crumbling technology keeping their homes together. After making a serious error in repairing a core, Jo goes to the surface, also called the Topside. While there, she meets a host of Topside residents. Tenz is a woman of many names with a mysterious past. The youthful and curious Kevin is a Drevari, a race of shape-shifters who looks to Tenz as a mother figure. Karina and Lumi, a shark woman and a person made out of electricity, are bounty hunters turned friends. Jo didn’t have authorization to leave the Interior, so she used a key that belonged to one of her superiors. After her sudden and unexplained disappearance, Interior forces begin pursuing her. One of my strongest feelings while reading Topside is how much I like the characters, especially Jo. She seems like a reliable, responsible woman. In fact, the whole reason she went to the surface was because she made a mistake and wanted to fix it. She didn’t try to blame somebody else or avoid accountability. I don’t know exactly why that stuck out to me so much, but Jo is a great character for people that like down-to-earth, no nonsense characters. She’s a repair technician, and that is her main motivation. She works hard to help support her parents and younger sister. She makes a mistake and takes matters in her own hands to make things right. True, she also wants to avoid punishment for destabilizing the planet’s core, but nobody’s perfect. Even after talking about Jo, I’d have to say that Topside draws its greatest strength from its characters. Each one has a story to tell, even if there are more questions than answers. Karina refers to Kevin as a refugee, but doesn’t say from what, or why Tenz is so protective of him. We never see how Karina and Lumi met or became romantically involved. Still, we see their chemistry as they work together and amplify each others’ strengths. They may be a shark woman and a living lightbulb, but isn’t that what a good relationship is all about? I don’t know if the authors plan to expand on this universe in the future, but they sure gave themselves room to. Bogosian’s illustrations make Topside a joy to look at. His style is very round and soft, juxtaposing the tension and mood with a welcoming image that encourages the reader to keep taking in every detail. I also liked his use of monochrome. Certain pages used almost entirely values of a single color, which I think told an interesting visual story. The Interior is case in cold, metallic blues. The Topside is a warm desert of rusty reds and yellows. Topside meshes Monk’s writing with Bogosian’s illustrations in harmony, and they seems to bring out the best in each other as a team. Despite the well-woven tapestry that is is the universe of Topside, I felt that the finishing touches weren’t quite there. Without spoiling the ending itself, I’ll just say that the pacing grinds to a halt for a contrived and overly convenient conclusion. The main conflict is between the improvisational spontaneity of the Topside and the rigid bureaucracy of the Interior. It’s a conflict that the story pretty much tosses to the side and it felt jarring. It’s a shame, considering how skilled Monk is with their use of tension and suspense earlier on in the story. I feel that the story would have greatly benefitted if they had revised the last five pages or so one more time to keep the momentum going that they had already established. Still, Topside offers a window into a universe that left me hungry for more. I would like to explore these author’s other works, and I hope they explore the universe of Topside even more in the future.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ally

    Thank you to Lerner Publishing Group Graphic Universe for giving me this an advanced digital copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This graphic novel follows the story of Jo, a young girl who lives on a planet that constantly needs fixing. After screwing up a job she decides to take go on her own to fix her screw up without alerting anyone, but obviously, people find out she travels to the Topside. Topside world-building and style is exactly what you Thank you to Lerner Publishing Group Graphic Universe for giving me this an advanced digital copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
 This graphic novel follows the story of Jo, a young girl who lives on a planet that constantly needs fixing. After screwing up a job she decides to take go on her own to fix her screw up without alerting anyone, but obviously, people find out she travels to the Topside.
 Topside world-building and style is exactly what you expect from an outer-space fantasy — weird alien creatures, unexplained superpowers, adventure, and cool technology. The idea and essence of Topside were promising, but it, unfortunately, failed to deliver. The graphic novel had absolutely no plot, or at least it had several plots that did not merge together nor came to a solution. The characters were flat and unmemorable, I felt nothing for them except for the shark lady and the lightbulb dude — but still did not feel enough attachment remember their names.
 The main problem was that J.K Monk and Harry Bogosian tried to create this complex world with intertwining story arcs but gave no explanation or conclusion to them. Jo, in particular, set out to fit out the core she damaged (and according to the book’s description it was the planet’s core but it never made that big of a deal) but never actually did in the end? Instead at the end the characters somehow became the protectors of the planet and it is never really explained aside from that. All other goals before that suddenly just vanished. However, the art style was quite pleasant. It reminded me of a Ghibli style with really round-faced characters, mind-boggling backgrounds, and creatures. It brought back memories of the days I obsessively watched Porco Rosso.
 Overall, it is an average graphic novel. It’s worth a read if you want to appreciate the art but not worth it if you’re looking for a well-plotted story.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Book Minded Mag

    Topside is a fun, full-of-adventure comic that shows readers what happens when you step away from the familiar. Josephine Wilson has lived in the Core her entire life and currently works there as a reliable repair technician. Jo gets things done and is the one to count on. But when she makes a rare mistake, Jo decides to go Topside, meaning above ground. She’s never left the Core before but is determined to make things right. While Topside, she encounters beings and sights she’s never seen as Topside is a fun, full-of-adventure comic that shows readers what happens when you step away from the familiar. Josephine Wilson has lived in the Core her entire life and currently works there as a reliable repair technician. Jo gets things done and is the one to count on. But when she makes a rare mistake, Jo decides to go Topside, meaning above ground. She’s never left the Core before but is determined to make things right. While Topside, she encounters beings and sights she’s never seen as she’s being chased by her employer, the Interior. Topside was a lot of fun to read and it was refreshing to read a comic that wasn’t all doom and gloom. So many comics and graphic novels are either gruesome, bloody or just plain dark. But Topside explores what it means to move out of your comfort zone, even when fear tries to stop you. I also loved that the characters were mostly people of color, with Jo as the heroine. But she wasn’t written as a stereotypical sassy or angry black woman. Jo is sensitive, hardworking but also willing to listen and let others help her. She is written as a person and I definitely appreciate that. I would definitely recommend Topside to all of my readers who enjoy comics and graphic novels. I think they and their children would enjoy it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jill Jemmett

    This was a fun sci fi graphic novel. Jo is a maintenance worker in the core of the planet she lives on. She makes a mistake one day that will take a long time to get the supplies to fix. Instead of waiting, she goes to the surface of the planet, or the topside, to get the supplies. She ends up leading a bunch of people on a chase around the planet. There were some funny parts to the story. When the workers were chasing Jo to reprimand her for making the mistake, they had to keep stopping to get This was a fun sci fi graphic novel. Jo is a maintenance worker in the core of the planet she lives on. She makes a mistake one day that will take a long time to get the supplies to fix. Instead of waiting, she goes to the surface of the planet, or the topside, to get the supplies. She ends up leading a bunch of people on a chase around the planet. There were some funny parts to the story. When the workers were chasing Jo to reprimand her for making the mistake, they had to keep stopping to get approval for different tasks. They couldn’t pursue her without permission. That was funny, because every time they caught up to her, she got away because they had to wait for permission. I didn’t like the colours used in the graphics. The colours were good when the characters were on the top side, but when they were in the core, the colours were monochromatic. That made it difficult to tell what was actually happening in the graphics, since everything was the same colour. I enjoyed this graphic novel. Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for providing a copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    a

    Thank you to Netgalley for providing this E-Arc in exchange for my honest review! What a cute graphic novel! A super quick read and pretty fun! I am newer to graphic novels than most so this was a great entry level read for me. The story is light, the plot somewhat vague and the characters were very surface level. Nothing too deep or thought provoking which I happened to enjoy in this story. The sci-fi was very digestible which makes this an ideal option for a younger audience that enjoy Thank you to Netgalley for providing this E-Arc in exchange for my honest review! What a cute graphic novel! A super quick read and pretty fun! I am newer to graphic novels than most so this was a great entry level read for me. The story is light, the plot somewhat vague and the characters were very surface level. Nothing too deep or thought provoking which I happened to enjoy in this story. The sci-fi was very digestible which makes this an ideal option for a younger audience that enjoy monsters, different worlds and walking sharks that wear dresses. The rag tag band of misfits were endearing and kept me easily engaged throughout their journey. The artwork is the standout here. It’s adorable while still appearing apocalyptic and rustic, fitting the story perfectly. I wouldn’t mind reading a sequel to this!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kiri

    Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. A fun and interesting dystopian graphic novel. It kind of reminded me of The City of Ember and Girls' Last Tour, Vol. 1. Overall, I enjoyed the story and the art. I did wish that the characters had a little more depth to them, though. I would have felt more connected to the story if they did.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul Decker

    *I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley from Lerner Publishing Group. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.* This graphic novel shows a group of misfits working together in a strange, and elaborate world. The whole book is colorful with great designs of characters. There are aliens, weird creatures, and detailed backgrounds. I love world building that is just there in the background without explicit explanations. It is an *I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley from Lerner Publishing Group. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.* This graphic novel shows a group of misfits working together in a strange, and elaborate world. The whole book is colorful with great designs of characters. There are aliens, weird creatures, and detailed backgrounds. I love world building that is just there in the background without explicit explanations. It is an intricate and bizarre world. I enjoyed the comical take on beaurocracy. This book was a fun, easy read about finding your own path and diverting from the assigned path. I give this book a 4/5.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kera (featherboundbooks)

    I requested this title on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 3.25 stars The artistic style and originality of this graphic novel was really unique. It was so fun to read as this rag tag group of very different individuals travel through different places to basically save the world. When technician Jo cannot complete a task in her underground world, she must break some rules and go Topside to find a specific material she needs to fix things. Topside, she meets a group of different I requested this title on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 3.25 stars The artistic style and originality of this graphic novel was really unique. It was so fun to read as this rag tag group of very different individuals travel through different places to basically save the world. When technician Jo cannot complete a task in her underground world, she must break some rules and go Topside to find a specific material she needs to fix things. Topside, she meets a group of different individuals who join her on her journey, all the while being chased by the authorities who are trying to bring her to justice. This was just really cool and I enjoyed it a lot.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    When Jo, a system mechanic makes an error that compromises her planet's core she knows the only way to fix it is so leave home and head to the planet's core to fix it herself. Soon she's wandering through deserts, riding on the back of giant beasts, and cutting deals with con artists and bounty hunters. Meanwhile the agents who monitor the core are on the case of what happened to the and are in pursuit of Jo. This was fine, it was a little too sci-fi for me. But it'd be a great recommendation When Jo, a system mechanic makes an error that compromises her planet's core she knows the only way to fix it is so leave home and head to the planet's core to fix it herself. Soon she's wandering through deserts, riding on the back of giant beasts, and cutting deals with con artists and bounty hunters. Meanwhile the agents who monitor the core are on the case of what happened to the and are in pursuit of Jo. This was fine, it was a little too sci-fi for me. But it'd be a great recommendation for someone who likes sci-fi and graphic novels.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Best

    I first want to say how much I loved the world building within this novel. It was absolutely gorgeous and the color palatte was stunning. However, there were times I could not tell at all what was happening in the panels. I dont know why, but sometimes they were so mushed up that I couldn't see what was actually going on. I couldn't read any of the red or green papers because of how blurry they seemed, but I guess It wasn't too important? Either way, cute story, a little confusing with the I first want to say how much I loved the world building within this novel. It was absolutely gorgeous and the color palatte was stunning. However, there were times I could not tell at all what was happening in the panels. I dont know why, but sometimes they were so mushed up that I couldn't see what was actually going on. I couldn't read any of the red or green papers because of how blurry they seemed, but I guess It wasn't too important? Either way, cute story, a little confusing with the language used (def not for children because of advanced language). I liked it though!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alory Shannon

    Fun, with quirky humor. The art is nice and the world is very interesting, though I would've liked more background info about it all. The ending felt rushed, was a little hard to understand, and definitely tied everything up too neatly, but it was still a fairly enjoyable read. I liked Jo, the main character, and I understand that I need to FIX IT feeling she clearly has, but I also didn't feel like there was much depth to the characters, though it's not a huge book so that makes sense.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cori DeVerse

    My favorite part of this book was the art. The style is beautiful and the coloring is absolutely gorgeous. I was really jiving with the plot and characters at the beginning but as things progressed I felt there wasn't enough explained about what was happening. I think this could have benefited from being a little bit longer in order to flush out the characters and add some more detail to the plot. That being said I would totally read this again and I'd read a continuation or something in the My favorite part of this book was the art. The style is beautiful and the coloring is absolutely gorgeous. I was really jiving with the plot and characters at the beginning but as things progressed I felt there wasn't enough explained about what was happening. I think this could have benefited from being a little bit longer in order to flush out the characters and add some more detail to the plot. That being said I would totally read this again and I'd read a continuation or something in the same world.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Topside was a very interesting graphic novel. Something like I’ve never read before. As the characters start their journey you really never know what’s going to happen and I was very impressed how much I enjoyed it. The storyline kind of reminded me of the tv show Gravity Falls. The artwork was amazing and I’m not sure if this will be a series or not but regardless I’m definitely interested in more works by this author!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dolores

    Jo Wilson is part of the repair personnel for the Interior, and a very skilled one. But a routine maintenance job goes awry, and the materials needed to fix the damage don't look like they will arrive in time. So, Jo sets out to retrieve the materials herself from the world Topside. She has always heard that Topside is a dangerous place, but finds a world of wonders and a band of travelers that join her on her quest. Fun.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    It's pretty, but... it's also pretty confusing. I just wanted a little bit more about what the heck was going on with the world. It was a bit too surreal for me. I liked the characters and the general story, but I just went through the whole book being confused about the world. There's one vague moment where one of the characters tells a story that seems like it's meant to hand-waivingly explain the world, but it just kind of falls flat.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gunwild

    While reading this, I thought a lot about Victorian-era kids who worked in coal mines, crawling through narrow shafts and opening doors that released gas and dust. It was probably very lonely and very dark, which is how this book starts off - but that's not where it stays. I think that's a valuable journey to take kids on, so I can strongly recommend this. Plus there's a friendly shark who wears a dress, that's nice.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Megan Mann

    Eh, it was okay. It was about a girl who works at the core of the planet and screws up, so she goes “topside” to find the element she needs. She runs into two criminals (unknowingly) who help her. Their group is joined by two bounty hunters looking for said criminals. It’s an adventure that ends happily for everyone involved. Good, but not my favorite.

  27. 4 out of 5

    (っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ Kasey ♥

    **Disclaimer: I was given an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.** "Topside" was SUCH an endearing and cute story. I loved the art style and the main character, Jo. The audience the graphic novel is written for, children's, is fitting and will be easy for younger readers to follow.

  28. 4 out of 5

    sam

    The ARC of this graphic novel was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was kind of confused the entire time reading this. I feel like if there was a bit more backstory, it would've been a whole lot better. Not only that but the ending confused me so much and I don't really understand what happened. But whatever, it was okay.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aria Maher

    Yet another random graphic novel I grabbed from the library. The art in this one is really good, and the story is interesting and unique. I think that the ending is odd, and a bit rushed, but I really enjoyed the characters and their adventures. Just a light, fun read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Thomas

    This felt like a mashup of Fallout and Steven Universe, with a plucky protagonist from a technologically advanced underground "Core" going out to the upper wastes to retrieve a MacGuffin power source. Competently drawn and featuring some likable characters.

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