Everything changes once Claudia Jones comes back to Blithedale High.
Nigel becomes smitten with the mysterious girl whose dramatic return stirs everyone’s interest. The new Claudia appears much more untouchable and otherworldly than the previous one, and Nigel can’t seem to approach her without coming off like a doof. Free from her abusive ex-boyfriend, Paula finally confronts her blossoming sexuality by beginning a sort-of romance with Johanna, whose friendship with Brett is on the rocks. Forgoing school, Brett must take care of his remorseful mother, who is in home hospice care. Emily, meanwhile, thinks she’s met a perfectly sweet boy during a party, but her initial feelings prove false as the night rolls into a nightmare. Volume 2 of the Life on Earth series builds upon its off-kilter and subversively charming foundation, widening its emotional core in subtle, effective ways. This slim sequel mirrors its predecessor’s diverse artwork—rough, exaggerated, and expressive—and the multifaceted narrative focuses on its multiracial cast. There is an abstract chapter from Claudia’s perspective, illustrated in colored pencil in contrast to the mostly black-and-white art of the rest of the volume. Everything remains more or less unsettled, exactly as it should be, with a cliffhanger ending thrown in for good measure. MariNaomi’s (Losing the Girl, 2018, etc.) attention to life’s uncanny aspects feels more urgent than ever.
Eerily good. (Graphic novel. 14-18)