• Interest Level: Grade 7 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

A wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way.
When Jo, a headstrong maintenance technician, makes an error that destabilizes her planet’s core, she only knows one way to fix things: leaving her underground home for a trip to the planet’s dangerous, unruly surface. Soon she’s wandering through deserts, riding on the backs of giant beasts, and cutting deals with con artists and bounty hunters. Meanwhile, agents of the core are in hot pursuit. J. N. Monk and Harry Bogosian (co-creators of the web-comic StarHammer) present a wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way.

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Interest Level Grade 7 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 6
Genre Graphic Novels, Young Adult
Category Diverse Books: #OwnVoices, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diversity, SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2019
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Graphic Universe ™
Language English
Number of Pages 200
Publication Date 2019-10-01
Text Type Fiction—Science Fiction/Fantasy
BISACS YAF010030, YAF010050, YAF056020
Dewey 741.5/973
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 6 x 9
Lexile 470
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: J.N. Monk

J. N. Monk is a Midwesterner with a song in their heart. They've lived in a lighthouse, an active volcano, and Florida but always return to the heartland. They love travel, superheroes, food, and cats and wish that everyone knew the lyrics and steps to the musical number in their soul. They live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Illustrator: Harry Bogosian

Harry Bogosian is a freelance Illustrator and comic artist from New York City. Since graduating Pratt Institute in 2009 he has drawn monsters for video game companies, done freelance work for books, and nowadays primarily makes comics and graphic novels. There is nothing he enjoys more than making new fantastical worlds, and filling them with his creations.


  • 2021 YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens Nominee, Winner, 2021


School Library Journal

“This compelling, offbeat journey will resonate with future Douglas Adams fans.”—School Library Journal

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Monk and Bogosian skillfully use the conventions of the graphic novel to convey both the universality of a quest story and the specific and utter weirdness of Jo’s home planet.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Kirkus Reviews

“Immersive, mysterious, and just the right amount of trippy.”—Kirkus Reviews


“As quest stories go, the world building in this one is impressive. . . . A dystopian sf graphic novel perfect for readers new to the genre.”—Booklist

Jeff VanderMeer

“An intriguing mix of adventure and wonder and the mundane, both quietly epic and very personal. Wonderful art. Highly recommended.”—Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation

Kristen Gudsnuk

Topside is an engrossing adventure buoyed by lush sci-fi landscapes and unlikely friendships. Monk and Bogosian have crafted an imaginative odyssey that calls to mind the works of Hayao Miyazaki.”—Kristen Gudsnuk, Making Friends

Zander Cannon

“Thoughtful, woke, and enjoyably propulsive. The world Monk and Bogosian describe is terrible, but such an enjoyable place to spend an afternoon.”—Zander Cannon, Kaijumax

Katie Shanahan

“Vibrant and fun, Topside blasts off on a colorful journey across an alien world.”—Katie Shanahan, Silly Kingdom