Always Human


Product Details

$14.99  $13.94
Yellow Jacket
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.4 X 0.7 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

Ari North is a queer cartoonist who believes an entertaining story should also be full of diversity and inclusion. As a writer, an artist, and a musician, she wrote, drew, and composed the music for Always Human, a complete romance/sci-fi webcomic about two queer girls navigating maturity and finding happiness. She's currently working on a second webcomic, Aerial Magic, which is about the everyday lives of the witches who work at a broomstick repair shop. She lives in Australia with her husband.


Published in partnership with GLAAD, North's queer futuristic romance imagines an alternate Australia in which people employ modifications to alter their appearance, augment their abilities, and even combat illness. Nearly 22-year-old Sunati integrates mods into her daily life, regularly changing her appearance and using memory mods to study. Austen, 18, on the other hand, has an immune condition that prohibits mod use, even for medical reasons, and she struggles to appreciate her natural appearance. After the young women meet in a train station, mutual interest develops as they introduce each other to their worlds. Sunati transports Austen to a VR environment she designed to resemble an endless sky, and Austen takes Sunati to a "naturalist" commune populated by those who can't or won't use mods. Poor communication leads to emotional conflict, punctuated by Sunati's guilt about using mods and Austen's unconfronted insecurities. Featuring a diverse cast of side characters, the story successfully avoids unfortunate tropes that fictional queer relationships frequently suffer. Though the collected webcomic can sometimes feel disjointed, soft, expressive art adds a visceral charge to the couple's very human experiences, which range from excitement and affection to pain and doubt. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 12-up.-- "Publisher's Weekly"
In a not-so-distant future where changing one's physical features is as easy as purchasing nanobot mods, Sunati falls for Austen, a girl who always looks the same.
Since Austen never changes, Sunati admires what she assumes is her bravery and confidence. As Sunati and Austen chat more, Austen bluntly asks Sunati if she only wants to get to know her more because of her medical condition, which prevents her from using mods. As they gradually grow closer, Sunati learns how to interact more respectfully with those who have overactive immune systems as well as to share her feelings more honestly. Austen, in turn, learns to trust Sunati. This beautifully illustrated slice-of-life tale that shows two young women of color getting to know each other and creating a relationship is so warm and charming that readers will hardly notice how much they are learning about how to better interact with folx who are different from themselves and the importance of not making assumptions. The story also successfully weaves in agender, genderfluid, and asexual characters as well as the subjects of parenting and colorism into the natural arc of Sunati and Austen's developing story. The soft, romantic artwork evokes hazy watercolors. The speech bubbles are predominantly pink and blue, and the varied layout will maintain readers' interest.
A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in. (Graphic romance. 12-18)-- "Kirkus Reviews"