The second volume of the 5 Worlds series, The Cobalt Prince, brings back Oona Lee, An Tzu, and Jax Amboy on their quest to light the beacons and save the Five Worlds from chaos and destruction.

Having successfully fought their way through the invading Toki and lit the first beacon in volume one, The Sand Warrior, Oona and her friends disguise themselves and take off for the other worlds. A series of threats and misunderstandings lead to them abandoning ship early on the moon of Salassandra, where they meet some new friends, and soon make their way to Toki in search of the stolen Queen’s Bones. Oona and her allies must figure out how to stop the evil Mimic from using those bones to regain its full power before it’s too late—and before the Mimic can spread its hatred and hostility across the Five Worlds.

5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince is an exciting and fun continuation to the comic series. Though the book has a clear arc and resolves many of its major conflicts by the end, it’s by no means a stand-alone book. The Cobalt Prince starts immediately after the end of The Sand Warrior without re-establishing much context or re-telling previous events, so it would be confusing for readers who are not already familiar with the series.

As with the first book, The Cobalt Prince develops its vibrant setting with large conflicts and issues that echo modern real-world problems, such as climate/environmental concerns, bigotry and discrimination, inequality, and corruption. The story also takes the characters through relatable personal issues pertaining to family, identity, illness, and more. This volume spends more time with Oona’s sister, Jessa, giving the reader insight into her decisions, thoughts, and actions during the time she has been missing.

Overall, the world-building is well-done and the characters, both familiar and new, are memorable. The setting blends fantasy and science fiction in a pleasing way. The comic has a lot of heart, and Oona’s adventures are interesting and exciting to follow. Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender or Hayao Miyazaki films would likely find something to enjoy about this series.

In terms of diversity, I thought this comic was good but could be better. The book spends significant attention on the issue of racism, but in a fictionalized way. In other words, the main racial conflict is between the Toki, who have blue skin, and what seems to be rest of the Five Worlds, who are depicted with a variety of human skin tones. This works and makes sense in a fantasy/sci-fi setting, but is a metaphoric and “safe” way of approaching the very real issue of racism. All too often, issues such as this only get explored through metaphor and never directly, with aliens or supernatural creatures standing in for people of color, in a way that allows readers enough distance that they can avoid engaging with real-life racism and inequality. (There is an excellent breakdown of this problem in this Twitter thread by N.K. Jemisin). I did appreciate the diversity of body types among the characters, and An Tzu’s condition could be seen as some disability representation, though that would be the only depiction of disability in the comic.

I really enjoyed the art of The Cobalt Prince, which reminded me a little bit of Noelle Stevenson’s art. There are lots of soft, round shapes and curved lines, giving things a nice flow. The colors are bright and do much to bring the story to life and to define the characters.

5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince is a well-done sequel, and the series as a whole is a great addition to a collection. The publisher categorizes the series as middle grade (8-12), and I agree this age range is appropriate, though there is plenty to appeal to older readers, as well. I myself will be looking forward to picking up book 3 when it’s released.

5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince, Book 2
By Mark Siegel Alexis Siegel
Art by Xanthe Bouma Boya Sun Matt Rockefeller
ISBN: 9781101935910
Random House, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
Series Reading Order

  • Sharona Ginsberg

    Past Reviewer

    Sharona Ginsberg is the Head of the Terrapin Learning Commons at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her work fits where technology and learning intersect, and she is especially interested in makerspaces and creating. She is also interested in issues of equity and social justice, serving LGBTQ patrons, and her dog, Bilbo Waggins.

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