Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: As Big as the Sky
AUTHOR: Amy Aislin
PUBLISHER: MLR Press
LENGTH: 140 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 4, 2017
Sam wants nothing to do with his irresponsible, sarcastic neighbor…or does he?
Sam McAuley is having a rough start to the summer: Not only is he being sued, but the new guy running the animal rehabilitation center next door has no idea what he’s doing and his runaway chickens constantly end up in Sam’s pristine yard.
Everything is temporary for Bo Novak. For as long as he can remember, it’s been one town to the next, one school to the next, one job to the next. Even his current job—running his sister’s animal rehab center while she’s away on a four-month leave—is temporary. And he does know what he’s doing, thank you very much. Sure, things don’t always run smoothly, but the stick-in-the-mud next door could be a little nicer about it.
One overheard conversation, an olive branch, and a baseball game might show these guys that being at odds isn’t really what they want, and that what they want might just be each other.
While his sister is away at a training course, Bo Novak agrees to house (and animal) sit for her. She runs a animal rescue/rehabilitation center from her house, and can’t really just leave for four months without someone to cover her. So even though Bo doesn’t really have the kind of job where wandering off for four months is totally cool, he says he’ll help out. Because he is the most awesome brother ever. Not that she (or her damn chickens) will acknowledge that. His new “neighbor”, Sam, also seems to have missed the memo.
I kinda have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, while I didn’t love this book, I have the feeling this was halfway because I have zero interest in comics (web, published, or otherwise) and so those parts of the story did nothing to catch my interest. Also that kind of tumblr/fanboying tone that the book took sometimes was a bit grating on my nerves. It was too…sweet, maybe? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just one cane away from yelling at the kids to get off my lawn (except that would require me to actually talk to the kids on my lawn, and nope). Anyways, let’s just say I can see how this might not be the book for me, and I don’t want to overly penalize it for that.
On the other hand, I’ve read books before about subjects that held zero interest for me that are well written enough that I find myself fascinated anyways. And this book just couldn’t pull that off. There was a lot of “comics are AWESOME!!!!” here, which if you like them, I guess you agree with and are all in. If you don’t…then you are kind a left feeling like being stuck in a conversation that you don’t understand and are bored to death by.
I also didn’t really care for the You’ve Got Mail type of thing it sorta tried to do–but never really committed fully to so it seemed a bit off. We only get like three or so conversations between them online, and none of them really added to the story other than to try and create this big moment of reveal…which was never a surprise to the audience, and barely made a blip with the characters themselves. I would have much preferred this to not have been a part of the story at all since it seemed so completely unnecessary.
But while I am kind ragging on this book, it wasn’t completely bad. There were more than a couple scenes that I liked, and the characters were for the most part interesting. I didn’t mind reading this story, it’s perfectly harmless and probably a good fluff-piece if you need a bit of that at the moment. I like the subplot between Bo and his sister, and while I think I would have been a lot more pissed off in the end, I like that it wasn’t just swept under the carpet either.
Mostly I just feel that this book wasn’t for me at all. Not in a “I hate it” way, either. I just had a hard time connecting with the characters on any more than the surface details, and so that made the plot feel a bit meandering at times. If you like books about web-comics and fanboying this might be right up you alley though.