Laddertop Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: Seven Seas
Release Date: September 2011
Price: $10.99
Creator(s): Orson Scott Card, Emily Janice Card, Zena Margaret Card and Honoel Ibardolaza
Format: 192 pgs.; B&W; manga-sized Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-7595-3182-6
Age Rating: N/A
ICv2 Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

This family production by award-winner Card, his wife and his daughter follows a format that will be familiar to readers of manga:  The future of the world depends on young students of a space academy.  Unlike most such stories, they are not being trained as ultimate warriors.  Instead, they are a necessary part of the crew that is building facilities in space, because the aliens who have given humans advanced technology also gave us some very strange designs, and a full-sized adult won't fit into some of the necessary spaces.  Of course, the aliens left several mysteries behind, including a "do not touch this switch" device in each of the space stations.

Part of the selection process for these space academies is a mysterious machine that accepts or rejects applicants with no apparent rhyme or reason.  Clearly, the aliens had one or more hidden agendas, and the reader gets taken along for the ride.

The tale is mildly derivative, but with enough new ideas to be very entertaining.  The artwork is very average manga-style, good but in no way exceptional.  The real appeal is the intrigue of the story, but since this is only the first volume of an ongoing story, much is left unsettled by the end of this book.

Suitable for all but the very youngest readers, but probably most appealing to tweens and young teens, due to the characters.

--Nick Smith: Librarian Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.