Three of Earth’s last teenagers discover a long-hidden escape route for humanity in this suspenseful future tale, a solo debut for Smyth.
Fifteen years after a virus stopped all new human births, most of the aging population lives in overcrowded urban warrens while Mia, Xian and Jesse rattle around a steadily-emptying school with the rest of their thinning generation. Jesse’s controversial involvement in cloning studies, artistic Mia’s work in an old-age home and reckless Xian’s dangerous and illegal excursions into the miles of old tunnels and sewers beneath the city has turned their friendship contentious. Their bonds solidify again, though, when they discover clues that point to a successful but suppressed experiment in human cloning many years previous, thus drawing the ominous attention of a mysterious government agent. Smyth, a veteran illustrator, creates a credible futuristic world in which advanced technology and run-down infrastructure blend seamlessly in monochromatic ink-and-wash graphic panels done in an underground comics style. Showing particular chops with chases, escapes and even multiple actions like tantrums in single impressionistic mélanges of images, she creates back stories for each central character, cranks the tension up on the way to a climactic double surprise and closes with a tidy but upbeat resolution.
Despite earnest undertones a richly imagined and capably carried-out thriller. (Graphic science fiction. 11-13)