REVIEW: 5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince
5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince
By Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, Boya Sun
Random House Books for Young Readers, 256 pages, $20.99/12.99
The interesting test for a book in a series is just how accessible it is for a new reader to jump in. In the case of the second installment in 5 Worlds, The Cobalt Prince, the answer is a total failure. There is nothing provided the curious reader as to what has transpired before so we meet a new world and new characters almost immediately plunge into a dizzying flashback.
Across the 256 colorful pages, things slowly begin to make sense as some evil entity called the Mimic manipulates people to obtain the missing arm of a Queen’s statue that will imbue it with unimaginable power. It falls to two sisters, apparently mutants in their world, to prevent unspeakable horrors from happening.
There’s something about Sand Dancing and colorful sands on moons that need to be moved so planets can become suns (apparently, the laws of physics do not apply to this solar system).
There’s a lot of running, dancing, and shouting about saving the Five Worlds from extinction and after lighting one in the first volume, Oona Lee feels the pressure to light the remaining four in time beginning on the moon of Toki. Separated from her older sister Jessa, who is also blue-skinned, Oona feels alone and isolated and way too young to be asked to save the universe.
Someone named An Tzu is dying, but since he’s tertiary to the story, we don’t care until maybe the ending. Exactly who this Jax Amboy is remains vague.
Considering there are five creators and, presumably, an editor involved, one would hope for some clarity to the worldbuilding, the characters, and the stakes. Instead, there’s precious little provided considering the number of pages available. We get some sense that there are themes about racism and the dangers of blindly accepting other people’s truths as your own, but you’d have to look hard to follow them.
The art team needed some direction as it is hard to differentiate races as well as what’s going on panel to panel, page to page. The dancing, in particular, should have been redrawn from top to bottom to emphasize its magical properties. The vaguely Asian art style and bright colors make this feel imitative of other works rather than something original that can stand on its own.
Apparently, this is well-regarded and has sold well enough that a third volume has been promised although rather than continuing the story, it will tell a supporting character’s story, putting the crisis on hold.
It’s a shame that so many of these critical YA graphic novels get showered with love while failing to live up to the critical components of competent storytelling.