The Sand Warrior (5 Worlds Book 1) by writers Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, and artists Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2017. 9781101935866. 256pp.
The 5 Worlds are overheating, and if the ancient beacons aren’t relit, the environmental disaster could kill everyone and everything. Oona Lee’s sister Jessa was supposed to be the chosen one who could relight the worlds’ beacons and restore harmony, but she disappeared. Oona, like Jessa, is a Sand Dancer, but she lacks her sister’s talents. (Oona’s teacher calls her a disgrace. Sand Dancers do magic with sand. It’s complicated but super cool-looking in the graphic novel. It’s hard to do it justice in writing.) Oona seems to have more talent than she believes. After receiving a note from her sister she sets out to find her and bring her back.
As she’s leaving, her world (Mon Domani) is attacked by those who want to stop the beacons from being relit. Oona’s ship falls from the sky onto a starball stadium. Oona saves street urchin An Tzu (who has a condition that’s making him disappear) and famed starball athlete Jax Amboy (who has a secret). Her new friends help Oona continue her journey and her mission to find her sister, but [minor spoiler] it’s clear that Oona herself is probably the chosen one. And that this and the next books in the series will fly off library shelves.
I read an early copy of this that was mostly black and white, with a few full-color pages in the middle. Reading it was kind of like watching Dorothy arrive in Oz. It looks great in black and white, and I was enjoying the story. Then I turned the page and bam! Color! Wow. I’ve flipped through the published book (which is printed in color throughout) and it still has that wow factor. It’s so beautiful and bright that looking at it feels like I’m reading on my iPad in the dark.