Advance Review – Cosmic Cadets: Contact!

By | April 24, 2023

Cosmic Cadets, written by Ben Crane and illustrated by Mimi Alves, is a delightful graphic novel aimed at children ages nine through twelve.  The story combines elements of science fiction and classic kid adventures with valuable lessons about bravery, self-discovery, teamwork and empathy.

Cosmic Cadets main story follows the tale of four human cadets and an alien who is introduced early in the story.  Each of the human cadets has an important and heartwarming arc.  Jimmil, the captain’s son, must find his own path and understand what it means to lead and how to utilize his talents instead of trying to transform himself into his distinguished mother. Nishika is a gentle soul with a gift for communicating but she must learn to look before she leaps. Tieran is a natural leader with the decisiveness and thought process to be a captain herself one day, but she must get past the feelings of jealousy and inadequacy that she lets define her. Finally, Felix is defined by his fear – fear of the world around him, self-doubt manifesting as fear and fear for his friends.  He must learn to master his fear instead of letting his fear define him.  

These four young explorers of the HSS Khonsu will embark on a journey to make first contact with an alien race on a planet that their older, more experienced, parents assumed was uninhabited.  Along the way they will face mortal danger, learn how to work together as a team, learn how to communicate with a new species and, in the end, be faced with the very real consequence that the adults of their ship and the new species they have discovered may end up wiping each other out.

Ben Crane’s writing on this book is very well done.  The plot of the book is fairly linear, however, I found that I was engrossed and it was a constant page turner for me and I am most assuredly out of the age range for this book.  It is very easy to connect with each of the characters and root for them in turn.  The parents are written with chronic brain cramps but that is to be expected in a kids adventure that is aimed at a younger audience in much the same way that you see similar adult brain malfunctions in stories as varied as Goonies and Lost Boys.  If you’re a parent looking to buy this for your child I would say that the writing is a great fit for fourth through seventh grade depending on the reading ability of your child.  There are some scary moments and moments of violence but the situations are age appropriate and there is nothing to worry about on that front.

The illustration by Mimi Alves is a charming blend reminding me of the Steven Universe art style.  Because this is a graphic novel, the art is much more detailed than in your typical animation but the characters are each brought to life lovingly and have unique looks that very much suit their personalities.  Similarly, the art direction Alves took with the alien life forms and various sequences of physical and psychic danger is expertly done and conveys the danger of the situation without lapsing into too much detail that might not be appropriate for a book aimed at younger readers. The colors by Priscilla Tranmontano are a mix of flat color with blended shading to provide emphasis and depth in key places and situations.  Tranmontano uses color very well in this book to keep the overall tone light while elevating the illustration and providing emotion where appropriate.

All in all this is a very enjoyable book and one I would read again at the ripe old age of 51.  For a young reader, this is a great graphic novel and one I would recommend to all the parents out there.  It’s a great introduction to science fiction, a very good book for reading comprehension and vocabulary, and a fun read.

Writing – 4 of 5 stars
Illustration – 4 of 5 stars
Colors – 4 of 5 stars

Overall Score
4 of 5 Stars (Excellent)

Writer – Ben Crane
Illustrator – Mimi Alves
Color – Prisicilla Tranmontano

Editor – Chris Staros
Design – Nathan Widick
Published by Top Shelf Productions