A touching, character-rich vision of an intriguing new world.
Far in the future, humankind has evacuated the earth in order to preserve it. Humans now reside in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the earth, 35 kilometers up in the sky. The society of the ring is highly stratified: the higher the floor, the greater the status. Mitsu, the lowly son of a window washer, has just graduated junior high. When his father disappears and is assumed dead, Mitsu must take on his father's occupation. As he struggles with the transition to working life, Mitsu's job treats him to an outsider's view into the living-room dioramas of the Saturn Apartments.
I love the idea and setting of this graphic novel series. It makes sense to me that in a future where Earth is uninhabitable, we would build something nearby rather than risk everything by shooting off into space. And having the hero of our story be a spacesuit window washer? Genius. Even in the fancy future, mundane chores still have to be done.
Except window washing in space is anything but mundane. Nevermind the occasional high winds that might try to kill you. The real interest comes from looking down into the apartments of the windows you are watching. Each chapter roughly focuses on one person in the Saturn Apartments, and reveals a bit about their story.
My favorite was undoubtedly the girl who lives on the surface of the ring, repairing holes with her spacesuited cat. There are other touching stories of love, loss, and faith in humanity.
Despite the sweetness of the stories, and the humor often portrayed through illustrations, I didn't love this book. I never felt like I connected to Mitsu, and a lot of the time there just wasn't enough action for my personal preference. Maybe when I'm in the mood for a slower paced story, I'll come back to the adventures in the Saturn Apartments.
Three out of five last whales.
Release Date: May 2010
Reading Level: Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: Not currently part of Dunlap's collection.