Title: Always Human
Author: Ari North
Publisher: Little Bee Books / Yellow Jacket
Publishing Date: June 2, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Queer, Sci-Fi, Graphic Novel
First serialized on the popular app and website WebToon, Always Human ran from 2015-2017 and amassed over 76,000 unique subscribers during its run. Now reformatted for a print edition in sponsorship with GLAAD, Always Human is a beautifully drawn graphic novel about a developing relationship between two young women in a near-future, soft sci-fi setting. Always Human is drawn in a manga-influenced style and with an incredible color palette that leaps off the page!
In the near-future, people use technology to give the illusion of all kinds of body modifications—but some people have “Egan’s Syndrome,” a highly sensitive immune system that rejects these “mods” and are unable to use them. Those who are affected maintain a “natural” appearance, reliant on cosmetics and hair dye at most to help them play with their looks.
Sunati is attracted to Austen the first time she sees her and is drawn to what she assumes is Austen’s bravery and confidence to live life unmodded. When Sunati learns the truth, she’s still attracted to Austen and asks her on a date. Gradually, their relationship unfolds as they deal with friends, family, and the emotional conflicts that come with every romance. Together, they will learn and grow in a story that reminds us no matter how technology evolves, we will remain . . . always human.
Rendered in beautiful detail and an extraordinary color palette, Always Human is a sweet love story told in a gentle sci-fi setting by a queer woman cartoonist, Ari North.
When I made the active decision to consciously select which books I will be reading, I’ve been discovering some great reads that fit me and my preferences. This includes exploring more graphic novels with representation. So, I’m really glad to be introduced to Always Human by Ari North from Hear Our Voices Blog Tours, and I am very thankful that I was chosen as a host for this tour.
Recently, I came out as pansexual to the book community, and to some of my friends. This blog post will be mostly a reflection on the Always Human and being a pansexual human being.
Ever since I was young, I was attracted to different kinds of people. May it be a male, female, lesbian, gay, if they had a certain vibe or trait that I was fascinated or intrigued with, I form an attachment to them. I find this feeling or urge getting stronger as I got older. I form crushes on people depending on their traits. For example, a couple of years back I was a huge kpop fan. I would usually choose by bias (aka fave member) depending on their traits or talents. The last group I liked before I stopped was GOT7, and my favorite member was the leader JB. Mostly because he was such a talented dancer and singer-songwriter, and when I got to work with this group, I really loved how he treated everyone fairly and with respect. I really loved that. Another person that I had such a strong attraction to was a female friend when I was still in the University. She was smart, independent and funny, I really loved that about her. I always wanted to be around her and get to know her more. Plus, I think I’m the type who doesn’t judge a person’s identity or orientation unless they tell me, and so I accept whatever part of them that they want to share with me.
And so, in the aspect of the graphic novel, I found myself in Sunati when she felt attracted to Austen, because she was curious about Austen as a person. Aside from the physical attraction, Sunati wanted to get to know Austen regardless of who they were. Sunati allowed Austen to share what parts of them they wanted to share. And I really loved that aspect of the novel because I totally found myself just like that.
The graphic novel’s art was pretty and soft, which reflected the story quite a lot. Ari North’s style is very fitting to the plot of the book. Although, there were times when I wanted more from the story, it was a very delightful read. I hope we get more graphic novels and a continuation of the story. I would love to see where Sunati and Austen’s love story will take.
Thanks to the publisher Little Bee Books / Yellow Jacket for providing some images from the graphic novel to share on the blog tour! Check out some scenes from Always Human by Ari North below!
Ari North is a queer cartoonist who believes an entertaining story should also be full of diversity and inclusion. As a writer, an artist, and a musician, she wrote, drew, and composed the music for Always Human, a complete romance/sci-fi webcomic about two queer girls navigating maturity and finding happiness. She’s currently working on a second webcomic, Aerial Magic, which is about the everyday lives of the witches who work at a broomstick repair shop. She lives in Australia with her husband.