Title: Laddertop Vol 1
Authors: Orson Scott Card, Emily Janice Card
Illustrator: Honoelo A Ibardolaza
Publisher: Tor/Seven Seas
May Contain Spoilers
An original science fiction manga by the bestselling author of Ender’s Game and his daughter
Twenty-five years ago, the alien Givers came to Earth. They gave the human race the greatest technology ever seen— four giant towers known as Ladders that rise 36,000 miles into space and culminate in space stations that power the entire planet. Then, for reasons unknown, the Givers disappeared. Due to the unique alien construction of the Laddertop space stations, only a skilled crew of children can perform the maintenance necessary to keep the stations up and running.
Back on Earth, competition is fierce to enter Laddertop Academy. It is an honor few students will achieve. Robbi and Azure, two eleven-year-old girls who are the best of friends, are candidates for the Academy. They will become entangled in a dangerous mystery that may help them solve the riddle of the Givers…if it doesn’t destroy the Earth first!
When I first received this book, I have to admit that I wasn’t in a huge rush to read it. What I actually thought was here’s another successful writer trying to cash in on the graphic novel wagon. When I sat down to read it, I found that I was entertained by this introduction to the Laddertop comic series, and by the end of the book, I wasn’t as put off by the art, which is bland and generic, and it did grow on me more than I thought possible.
Writing with his daughter, Emily, Card does what he does best – he creates compelling young characters who make me want to learn more about them. Thrusting his young protagonists into situations where they more clever and adaptable than the adults around them, they must rely on their own brains and courage to survive to the next page. Robbi and Azure are two eleven year old girls who are working hard to succeed at Laddertop Academy. If they are selected to serve on the space stations that were given to Earth by the alien Givers to power the planet, they will have achieved a high honor.
As is typical of a Card story, not everything is as it seems. It seems like working on the space stations would be an honor, but the reality seems a little different. Exploited by people who have become wealthy off of the gifts from the aliens, the kids will actually be performing unglamorous maintenance, which sounds like it might be dangerous, in addition to be thankless. Once Robbi arrives at the space station, she wonders why she keeps having disquieting dreams, and she begins to question her role at Laddertop.
I read the book in one sitting, and when I finished, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I would have liked to have the second volume, so I could just dive right into the mystery Robbi is pondering without having to wait. If you are familiar with Ender’s Game, Laddertop shares some similarities, and you will feel right at home. If you didn’t like Ender’s Game, chances are you won’t like this story either. It takes a bit of belief suspension to accept that the fate of the world rests in the hands of a couple of kids, and that theme resonates here. If you are a fan of Orson Scott Card, you will most likely enjoy this sci-fi adventure, though you might want to wait for the rest of series to be released before sitting down to read it.
Review copy provided by publisher