A review by storiesandsidequests
Always Human, by Ari North

emotional hopeful inspiring lighthearted relaxing
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

I’m so in love with this story! The artwork, the characters, the worldbuilding – everything is just…amazing. 
 
This graphic novel is everything I want in a story. Set in a futuristic society where technology “mods” are used to change a person’s appearance or help with daily living, this sapphic romance follows Sunati and Austen as they fall in love and navigate the excitement and challenges that come with a new relationship. 

The characters are well-developed, and relatable with realistic quirks, strengths, and flaws. Even though romance is at the center of the story, I loved that the author also took time to develop the platonic friendships and family relationships, showing that both characters have their own lives beyond their relationship. The story is sweet and tender but also addresses important issues such as body image, self-confidence, and illness/disability. 
 
“What does strength have to do with it? What’s brave about not having a choice?”

This quote from Austen was one of the most emotional scenes in the story for me. She, like other people who are living with physical or mental illnesses, are often praised for being “brave” by well-meaning friends and family. But being congratulated for the simple act of existing is often more patronizing than encouraging. Watching Sunati try to understand her new girlfriend’s struggles is something I wish we saw more often in stories because this type of communication and reframing is so important in relationships.

The representation in this comic is amazing. In addition to the main f/f relationship, there are side characters who are aro-ace, agender, and genderfluid, (the sequel also includes m/m & a poly relationship). I also liked that the characters are older than in most YA romances – Sunati is working at her first internship and Austen is in college. 

Other things I enjoyed: Rae is ultimate best friend goals. I loved the way she simultaneously calls Sunati out on her poor decisions and is an unconditionally supportive friend. Also, I enjoyed the scenes with Austen’s younger sibling Yasel. They were the perfect balance of annoying and helpful younger sibling as they give Sunati advice about Austen. 

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