(This is a promotional poster for Stephen McCrainie’s Space Boy. Feel free to check it out at his online store!)
This is a rather unconventional review for me. I don’t usually accredit myself as an avid comic follower unless you count maybe twenty manga I still read. But on a whim, after seeing so many ads about webcomics, I decided to give some a try because honestly, I was really bored and hungry for new things.
I have many rules in reading: 1. No sexual content 2. No foul language 3. No gore or gratuitous violence 4. No reading illegal copies of copyrighted books etc.
But one rule which applies to my health is this. I don’t read intriguing or new things past 10.00 PM. Why? Simple. I won’t sleep. Sleep is precious, so I made the rule. But last week I broke it.
To be fair, I didn’t see it coming. I thought webcomics would be boring. Well, a fair few of them were. I tried some like Lore Olympus and another fantasy one with a boy with pink wings, and I was rather unimpressed. That is until, at last, I hit the jackpot and discovered Stephen McCranie’s SPACE BOY.
Now I started reading it on a whim, expecting to fall asleep. Then I ended up staying up till 4:00 AM. I stopped myself from reading the whole thing that night, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I regretted it at work later, but in retrospect, I regret nothing now. The story, its characters, development, and setting are just simply fascinating.
The story takes place hundreds of years from now in space and on earth itself. The main character, Amy, and her parents migrate from a space colony to earth after her father loses his job. Future technology makes this possible as they are frozen thirty years until they reach their destination. Separated from her home and friends by distance and time, Amy goes to school and copes with an entirely new world.
There is net gear, which is a cellphone developed into clear glasses, deep space travel, and a new history centered on the effects of World War III and projects used to heal the relationship between different countries on earth. But still, at its heart, the story centers on the world we know and love, with its many wonders we take for granted. This is the world Amy, and later Oliver discovers.
It is not surprising, considering how lonely she is, for Amy to notice the other main character Oliver who never interacts or talks to the other students. Though she makes other friends, Amy has a special connection with Oliver when he finally sees her and speaks to her.
I won’t ruin the story for those interested in reading it, but I will go over specific things I especially enjoyed.
First of all, I love the overall feeling of McCranie’s story. It is heartwarming, family-centered, and relatable. Oftentimes, I wonder if the plot elements we call tropes are really just everyday aspects of human life we try to avoid. Amy’s story reflects many of our own because she discovers, heals, and grows just as we do. With her sadness, there is also simply a sense of wonder which still permeates her world.
Sure, time and distance separated her from her old life, but she experienced new things and became part of something bigger. And so it is with each of us on our own life’s journey.
Next, I actually really like all the characters. I feel each of them is necessary and play off each other well. As the story progressed, they matured, and I enjoyed seeing them change.
Amy is very bright, charitable, and altogether relatable. She is vulnerable at times, makes mistakes, and loves her family and friends very deeply. All in all, she is very likable and trusting. But not naive or gullible.
Her special ability to see people’s essence through different “flavors” is very charming and a driving element to the plot. At first, it seems like she is just making it up, but as time goes on, it is essential to understanding not only her character but also Oliver’s. The very reason she noticed Oliver was because of his lack of flavor.
I have added Oliver to my list of favorite male characters. At first, I pictured him as a brooding, silent type to counteract Amy’s cheerfulness. But really, what I didn’t understand is how wonderfully vibrant he is. And admirable. As Amy put it, “Oliver, I had not idea your flavor was so bright, so alive! You have passion in your heart. And love. Far more than I ever could have guessed. Your soul is beautiful.” I loved reading about him and his family and am anxiously curious to know what his future holds.
I don’t have time to go into every one of them, but suffice it to say I like all the characters and find the villains’ motivations very interesting. (As promised, I will spoil nothing for you, so I can’t say what those motivations are or exactly who the villains really are. Your welcome.)
Another aspect of this story I like is the art. In the beginning, I felt McCranie wasn’t as sure about the overall style he wanted for his characters and backgrounds, but after 50 chapters or so, he established a very likable theme that has stayed consistent. There are a lot of hidden clues he hides throughout each chapter. He continually uses important symbols and settings, which, I am sure, will continue to pop out as this story progresses.
Lastly, many themes really warmed my heart. One of them is understanding who we are and that we each have a distinct essence and place in the universe. Amy’s use of “flavors” to see other’s souls is evidence of this.
Another is the knowledge of being loved. Many people tell Amy she is loved. When she goes through difficult times, she reflects on these words of love. Several times, it saves her from potentially harmful mental situations. I feel many of us forget this when we are lonely, in pain, or spiritually lost. I also feel this will be very important to Amy and Oliver as McCranie continues their story.
There is also the fact that we each have control of and power over ourselves. Though I can’t give away too much, Oliver is an admirable example of facing invading evil and retaining himself against it.
Oliver’s relationship with Amy shows how loving someone else helps people face opposition and anchor themselves. That being said, the romance in this story is the type I admire. It doesn’t scream for attention or lean on passion or jealousy. It develops and helps those involved bloom. It is very sweet, and I care about all the relationships between the characters, romantic or otherwise (I say nothing more because I will give away too much.)
If you are a fan of science fiction, webcomics, or manga I encourage you to give this story a try. Unfortunately, it is still ongoing, and I am impatient to know what happens next. But, I can do hard things like wait. . . for a long time . . . for the story to end. . . But at least the journey is exciting! My problem is I read so fast.
I want to thank the author Stephen McCranie for creating such a simple, beautiful story. I didn’t have to worry about language or conflicting values or themes. I felt enlightened as I read it and excited!
Favorite quotes (So far 😉 ):
1.”Oliver, your flavor is pouring out of you. I can see it with vibrant clarity, just like the last time we hung out when I burnt that marshmallow and made you laugh. Except back then I couldn’t find the words to describe your flavor. Back then I couldn’t put a name to the warm tang of your true self. But now it’s so obvious. Simple, even. I feel silly for not seeing it before. Orange. Orange with a hint of cinnamon. That’s the flavor you’ve been hiding. Oliver, I had not idea your flavor was so bright, so alive! You have passion in your heart. And love. Far more than I ever could have guessed. Your soul is beautiful.”-Amy, Episode 88
2. “Oliver, men like you and I don’t make promises unless we can keep them.” Oliver’s Father, Episode 140
3. ” ‘Amy: ‘Am I really that much of a mystery, Oliver?
Oliver: ‘Yes. I think you are.’
Amy: ‘I don’t see why.’
Oliver: ‘There’s just. . . something about you. Something I wish I had.’
Amy: ‘Hmm. . . well, I hope I don’t disappoint you. I’m not as cool as you think, you know. I’m not talented like Maki, or pretty like Cassie. Honestly, I’m nothing special.’
Oliver: ‘You’re not nothing. That’s pretty special. At least. . . it is to me.’ “- Episode 39
4. “Amy: My point is, the world is stranger than any story I could ever make up, and more beautiful than any illusion I could ever cast.” Episode 18
Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful day.