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Laddertop by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card: Manga Review

Book: Laddertop, Volume 1  by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card,  Illustrated by Honoel A. Ibardolaza, Tor Seven Seas, September 27, 2011

Genre: Middle Grade / Young Adult Science Fiction Manga

Format/pages/source: Trade paperback 192 pages, received for review

Series: Book 1 of a trilogy

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Buy the book: Amazon

More Reviews: Goodreads

I haven’t read too much Manga, or even read Ender’s Game, but this space adventure sounded like something new and entertaining to try. Laddertop is a collaborative book by Orson Scott Card and his daughter Emily Janice Card, and they conceived of the kids-in-space idea during San Diego Comic-Con one year.  It’s quick, entertaining and different, and made me interested to read more science fiction books like this, and Ender’s Game.

The story took me a little while to get into at first as I was trying to get my bearings with the artistic style. There are a lot of details to notice in the artwork and you have to pay close attention to get the most out of the story. The story is about two eleven year old middle school girls, Robbi and Azure, who are interested in attending the exclusive Laddertop Academy, a school located in space.

Azure and Robbi are best friends and total opposites. Azure has an over the top personality and is excited about every aspect of Laddertop Academy, while Robbi can take it or leave it, though she does seem to be well suited for it. The story moves at a breakneck pace while the situation is being established and all the characters are introduced. I suspect we will learn more in depth info about the characters in future books. Azure really cracked me up with her bold personality.

The background on Laddertop Academy is that aliens known as Givers came to Earth and created four giant towers that are the ladders leading to space stations that bring power to Earth. They aliens took off and now children are charged with the task of tower maintenance and it has become a very desirable job. There are all kinds of tests that the kids must pass in order to go into space, and this process is shrouded in mystery.

The space training includes many details you may be wondering about space travel, including transport and the cool space chairs you ride in, and even bathroom logistics. I did get a little dizzy reading about the weightlessness portion of the journey.

I read Laddertop in one sitting and thought it did a pretty good job of setting up the series. I’m interested in learning more about the candidate selection process and the Scan test symbols, and about the alien Givers in future installments. This should be a fun series for middle grade readers.

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