The School for Extraterrestrial Girls Book 1: Girl on Fire is published by Papercutz, and written by Jeremy Whitley with art by Jamie Noguchi. Tara Smith is a focused young teen who’s parents drive her to become something great. That means no distractions like friends or hobbies. But when she oversleeps one day and fails to take her medication, it turns out her pills weren’t to help with allergies. Instead, they concealed her true self from the world. Tara is an alien. And she’s as surprised as everyone else.
The teen years are always tough. The world, and how one interacts with it changes so much for people at this stage of their lives. Imagine how much more difficult it would be if you spontaneously combusted in the middle of your classroom. Like a scene straight out of an X-Men origin story, Young Tara quickly finds herself having the worst day of her life when she does just that. Only she soon discovers she isn’t another step in human evolution. No, she’s an alien.
After her calamitous incident at school, she quickly finds herself at the School for Extraterrestrial Girls. There she must learn about her new world. Her studies focus on learning about the wider universe, as well as her newfound abilities. And passing is mandatory. At least if she wants to stay on earth.
The School for Extraterrestrial Girls Book 1: Girl on Fire uses this setting to delve into themes about self-acceptance, acceptance of others, and the need to separate individuals from larger social groups. All these concepts are given there due weight and attention. With the entire book spanning Tara’s first semester at her new school the hardship of such situations is given a real feeling of struggle. As first impressions go bad and shared histories between friends come to light, the book does a great job of illustrating not just how hard confronting these sorts of issues can be, but how long the struggle can last. Whitley’s writing does a great job of capturing the discomfort that can assault a person when they know they need to do something that is going to be painful. Even if that pain is a necessary step toward healing.
Even more impressive than the simple fact of the struggles grappled within The School for Extraterrestrial Girls Book 1: Girl on Fire is the fact that Whitley approaches these situations in such a way as to avoid vilifying anyone. Each character is treated as they are clearly intended to be: someone who is put into a hard situation and does their best to cope with it.
The art of The School for Extraterrestrial Girls Book 1: Girl on Fire is an overall solid performance from artist Noguchi. The myriad of unique alien designs showcased in this book is really impressive. Every individual, whether a speaking character or a background filler, stands out from everyone else. It truly makes this story feel like these aliens have all evolved in unique settings from each other.
The colors in each panel further help to highlight the variety of the characters on the pages. And while the colors are as varied as the characters they illustrate they’re never tacky or overbearing. My only complaint about the artistic presentation lies in its backgrounds. The majority of this book takes place in front of flat walls with little design to break up the soundings. I would’ve loved to have seen various elements that perhaps showed art from the many worlds these characters hail from perhaps. Something to imbue the surroundings, with the same spirit and energy that the occupants possess, would have elevated the art.
Even with that said The School for Extraterrestrial Girls Book 1: Girl on Fire is both a thoroughly enjoyable read, as well as an informative one. It teaches lessons about acceptance, both of others and one’s self are always admirable goals. As Tara and the company overcome the hurdles life puts before them here, I cannot even Image what challenges will face them in future stories. But I’m confident this creative duo will be able to make them both entertaining, as well as informative.
The School for Extraterrestrial Girls Book 1: Girl on Fire is available on August 4th wherever comics are sold.
The School for Extraterrestrial Girls Book 1: Girl on Fire
The School for Extraterrestrial Girls Book 1: Girl on Fire is both a thoroughly enjoyable read, as well as an informative one.