Losing the Girl (Life on Earth #1)

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MaiNaomi, Losing the Girl (Life on Earth #1), Walker Books Australia, 1 June 2018, 280pp.,  $37.99 (hbk),  ISBN: 9781512449105

Claudia Jones is missing. Her classmates are thinking the worst… or at least the weirdest. It couldn’t be an alien abduction, right?

None of Claudia’s classmates at Blithedale High know why she vanished – and they’re dealing with enough already. Emily’s trying to handle a life-changing surprise. Paula’s hoping to step out of Emily’s shadow. Nigel just wants to meet a girl who will laugh at his jokes. And Brett hardly lets himself get close to anybody.

Losing the Girl is a graphic novel set in the present-day, in a fairly average American high-school.  The narrative covers the story of the same sequence of events – the disappearance of a classmate – as witnessed through the differing perspectives of the central characters.  Subtle differences are employed to distinguish the viewpoints – changes to the style of the text, the way the images flow from one to the next, all showing the reader how one event can have a number of different meanings for different people, and can affect them in a number of different ways.

MariNaomi has crafted something original yet familiar with this book – while the social struggles of teenagers is fairly well-trodden ground, exploring those themes within a graphic novel setting and with the narrative twist of a possible time-travelling alien abduction scenario, we definitely have something new on our hands.

I particularly liked MariNaomi’s unconventional use of visual storytelling to convey emotion.  Some frames are more realistically drawn, while some veer into the cartoonish as the emotional content changes.  It works really well to give each character their own unique voice.

Losing the Girl is part one of a trilogy, and it will be very interesting indeed to see where MariNaomi takes her characters next.

Due to some of the more mature content contained in Losing the Girl (teen sexuality, pregnancy, abortion), I would recommend it for older teen readers, say from the 16-18 age bracket.

Reviewed by Christian Price

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