Topside by J. N. Monk and illustrated by Harry Bogosian was interesting. I honestly left it feeling kind of thrown about the whole thing and not really sure what I had just read. A space adventure on a faraway planet that features a technician going “topside” in order to fix a mistake that damaged her planet’s core. Many people live beneath the surface of the planet and her travel to the surface sparks a wave of panic among the leaders of the society and a massive manhunt for the missing technician.
Honestly, I feel like Topside was kind of half-completed and thrown together. The whole thing felt very rushed, from the world-building (vague and confusing) to the plot (pointless at times and filled with annoying conveniences) to the characters (very much caricatures). In so many ways it felt like the elements were all thrown together with the hope that they would make a cohesive and engaging story, but instead resulted in one of the most confusing point A, point B plotted stories I’ve ever read.
I didn’t hate this story, but I really didn’t like it, either. I felt the conclusion was a bit ridiculous and the story as a whole just wasn’t all that engaging or interesting. The characters who weren’t incredibly annoying were quiet and rather dull. The motivations behind the antagonist were minimal which ultimately resulted in a “convenient” moment within the story when the conflict was resolved.
And I think, ultimately, I just didn’t understand the point. Of anything.
The artwork was nice, but nothing exceptional, which ultimately leaves me feeling as though this story is just below average. Nothing about it really stands out to me, except perhaps a single character who was the equivalent of an alien lamp, simply due to how interesting found his existence to be. Overall, I simply couldn’t manage to get past how underdeveloped everything felt.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.