From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–Some time in the future, all of the humans are evacuated from Earth and moved to a man-made ring that now circles the planet. The luckiest people are the richest ones, because they can afford to have their windows cleaned so that they can see the planet far below them. Mitsu's father was a window cleaner, until the day five years ago that his rope broke (or was cut) and he fell down to the planet below. Now that Mitsu has graduated from junior high, he is about to become a window washer, too. It's a difficult and dangerous job because of the wind, meteorites, and radiation, but it's what he was born to do. This book introduces readers to a world that is both beautiful and tragic–people long to set foot on the planet Earth, but most of them can't even afford to see it. Iwaoka's drawings are for the most part cartoonlike and sweet, especially the people. But when the camera pulls back and readers see things on a grander scale–like Earth as seen through the eyes of a boy hanging tenuously by a rope while floating in space–Iwaoka's detail is suddenly breathtaking. Readers will look forward to the next volume because they'll be rooting for Mitsu to succeed in his career, to make new friends, to figure out what happened to his father, and to visit the surface of Earth.Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
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As fans of Japanese comics know, character development is king in manga, and Saturn Apartments is a series that proves the rule. Humans have moved to an immense apartment complex in the sky after earth was declared a nature preserve, with those able to afford better views living on the top floors. After his father plunges to his death, middle-school graduate Mitsu takes over his dad’s job as a window washer, allowing him a view of all levels of both the structure and society. The detailed artwork, particularly the carefully rendered backgrounds, offers insight into the characters and their place in society that the narrative leaves out. There are no car chases, no high drama, and no explosions, yet the gentle stories are compelling, as are the characters and their palpable yearning for light, for love, and, most of all, for a glimpse of home. This story of a young teen struggling to live alone will appeal to YAs, and the introspective nature of the narrative will have plenty of crossover appeal for adult readers as well. Grades 9-12. --Eva Volin