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A high-octane outer-space adventure slated to be the first in a twosome.
Preteens Robbi and Azure are best friends, though the girls couldn't be more opposite: Robbi is a sensitive dreamer, while Azure is a driven go-getter with a short temper. Azure's biggest dream is to be picked for Laddertop. This is a program of the Givers, aliens who claim to help conserve Earth's resources by building power-providing space stations 36,000 feet above the Earth; these are reached by giant ladders. Children are chosen to attend Laddertop since their small stature makes it possible for them to perform maintenance in the cramped spaces. Azure is delighted to learn she's picked for the mission, but Robbi is more reluctant. She reveals that her stepfather is abusive, and she worries about the safety of her younger siblings in her absence. Once in the Laddertop training program, strange things begin to happen to Robbi: She's bitten by a strange creature that imprints her with a tattoo that periodically bleeds, and she is plagued by strange dreams. The main characters in this volume are largely female, strong and intelligent, a wonderful departure from male-dominated extraterrestrial offerings. Ibardolaza's muscular art blends manga and Western aesthetics.
An intriguing beginning; readers will clamor for the follow-up. (Graphic science fiction. 12 & up)