Review: Topside by J.N. Monk, Harry Bogosian

Topside offered glimpses of a well thought out universe and beautiful art, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me because there wasn’t quite enough backstory.

A wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way.

Topside CoverWhen 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. (Goodreads) Goodreads

I received an eARC of Topside from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I felt like this story needed a prologue, or even a prequel to envelop readers in the world that Monk and Bogosian created in Topside. I loved Bogosian’s illustration, but I struggled to understand why we were seeing what we were. Mechanical shark in a dress? Awesome. Married to a living lightbulb? Sweet! Magic shapeshifting child? Amazing. But I needed more plot-wise.

The large role that bureaucracy played in this was really interesting and something I’d like to have seen delved into a little bit further because that was the only arc in this graphic novel that really made sense to me. It was never really explained why Jo desperately needed to go to the surface or what the problems were in her household that led her to work so much. I also didn’t really get why the other characters were supposed to be on the run.

Frankly, I loved a lot about Topside but it didn’t really come together for me. I’d love to see more work from Monk and Bogosian, especially about the fabulous bounty hunters or Kevin, but I want to see a little more worldbuilding in future work.


Title: Topside

Author: JN Monk, Harry Bogosian

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Length: 200 Pages

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: Recommended

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Representation: Nonbinary author


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