Review by Ian Keogh
Amy is at high school. Although her era is well into the future, the difficulties of school haven’t changed much. However, technically she’s thirty years older than her classmates, having spent that time in cryogenic stasis on the way to Earth from the far distant mining planet where she grew up. The tragedy of that is represented on the cover by Jemmah, once Amy’s best friend, now thirty years older, a chasm Amy has been avoiding, aggressively in Space Boy 2, but which is addressed here.
Before then there’s another bleak encounter with Oliver, the Space Boy of the title, and plenty of pages of high school life where Stephen McCranie expands the cast again. He’s skilled at introducing a few people at a time and letting readers come to know them before adding more. However, Space Boy still suffers from an incredibly slow pace. It was originally serialised on the Webtoon site, where the entire story remains available as of writing, and the pacing of successful daily episodes doesn’t transfer ideally to books of around two hundred pages. What works fine as snappy short scenes lacks a balance when combined, and leads to an extremely slow roll out. McCranie seems to be aiming for a complete immersion in Amy’s life, but so many pages are padding.
Moreso than the previous books there are some heartbreaking moments where there’s a fair chance you’ll be crying alongside the characters, which makes the general pace so frustrating, even allowing for the necessity of building toward the sequences. However, toward the end there’s a sense of the high school scenes not being so purposeless after all, and things coming together, so something to look forward to in Space Boy 4. However, there are still clumsy moments, such as Amy’s commitment to being a vegetarian barely lasting a dozen pages.
The first three Space Boy paperbacks are also available combined as the slightly larger format Space Boy Omnibus 1.