Georgia And The Edge Of The World by Robin Boyden puts a complex and brilliant metaphysical spin on the standard questing story. Join Georgia and her loyal companion Ponkey on a very different sort of quest for adventure that’s an absolute delight from start to finish.
Her first moments are all bound up in a thrilling adventure for sure, but young Georgia’s life after this is one of confinement and boredom. But this book-loving, adventure-seeking young girls’ life all changes in an instant when she discovers a message – join her, and faithful companion Ponky, on an adventure that’s going to take her to the edge of the world – literally, and into an adventure to discover who she is and where she came from!
When young Georgia first came to the castle in the city of Angleston, carried by Ponky her loyal donkey companion, there was a mysterious note for the Duke there, telling him that she’s the most important person and he should, “Never let her leave,” because, “To let her see the world would do her great harm.”
And so it is that Georgia grows up, causing trouble, whether it’s for her adoptive brother or the city of Angleston. She’s smart, sassy, impetuous, inventive, and always getting into trouble…
And all the while, between causing as much trouble as she possibly can, she loses herself in her books, the only source of an idea there’s some adventure to be had outside Angleston.
There’s one particular book she loves, The Lighthouse Keeper, with its tale of two star-crossed lovers and their baby, but the last chapter is missing. What could that mean?
Georgia and the Edge of the World is all about this one young girl’s search to find adventure and who is she, where she come from, and what does it all mean?
I’m not going to give away too much of the longer, more involved tale here – that’s for you to enjoy as it unfolds. Suffice it to say that, although all the clues are there in place very early on and it’s not all that hard to piece them all together, the end reveal isn’t the thing here, not really.
The wonderful thing about Georgia and the Edge of the World comes in just how Robin Boyden puts everything together, layering idea upon idea, working in some incredibly complex themes to what seems to be a simple tale. Instead of simply giving us the fun adventuring quest tale, this one takes ideas of fiction and reality, and blurs the edges of both, doing it so well, with Boyden adding in metaphysical ideas of who and what we are as we begin to discover who Georgia is.
And it’s all tied up with the idea of Myth, a land of awe and wonder, a secret place filled with chaos and adventure; it’s at the end of the world, and the place Georgia, Ponky, and her crew are headed…
And if that wasn’t enough for you, there’s plenty of funny stuff worked in all the way through Georgia and the Edge of the World. Sure, it’s not as outrageously funny as other DFB/Phoenix books I’ve read recently (Bunny Vs Monkey, Star Cat, and Mega Robo Bros), but it’s not designed to be – this one’s a pure fantasy, a quest with funny bits along the way – and these funny bits are just grand as they are.
You have the lovely and rather sweet running gag of Ponkey being a bit of a wet blanket, holding Georgia back, perfect to illustrate both their characters and friendship – and kudos to Boyden for doing all that without resorting to the crutch of letting Ponkey talk – nope, it’s all in the facial expressions…
And then there’s those one-off bits of giggle-worthy gags. Like I say, not as plentiful as in those other books, but that’s not the mood Georgia’s going for. No, the gags are extras, not the main thing, and that’s just fine.
Take this for example, my favourite from the book, as Georgia retrieves Lolltlute from the bottle and she explains that she’s from Myth, “at the edge of the Earth’s surface.”
Which gives us this great little moment…
Oh yes, that made me giggle.
And finally, you have Boyden’s artwork, which is an absolute delight all the way through. There’s a gentle realism to things, obviously exaggerated but still grounded in something approaching real-life.
The only thing that slightly pulls this one back from being perfect is that there are times when Boyden’s illustration background overwhelms his sense of comic storytelling and the flow is just stopped for a moment. Although, of course, the upside to the illustrator’s background comes in some of his splash pages and double-page spreads – which are just beautiful things… you know, like this…
The only other bad thing about Georgia And The Edge Of The World is the ending… well, actually no, it’s not a bad thing. Or it is. I’m honestly conflicted about it.
Read it one way and it’s crying out for a sequel, read it another way and it’s actually a perfectly self-contained moment to end on, with the quest the book is telling finished with, with Georgia knowing who she is and where she came from. But no more on the ending, otherwise I’ll be spoiling it for you way too much.
What you get from Georgia And The Edge Of The World, at least what I got from it, was a magical adventure, playing with wonderfully complex metaphysical ideas (and of course the kids can understand those ideas – they’re way smarter than we used to be at their age!). But it’s also a delicately sweet tale of friendship and trust, with moments of silliness, moments of gentle sentimentality, even a moment of sadness and heartbreak in there. And all the way through, Boyden gives us all that with beautiful illustrations and some fine comic art.
If there’s a second volume, I’ll love reading that one, but as it is, Georgia And The Edge Of The World is just damn great standing alone, a delightful story that kids should get so much out of.
Published by David Fickling Books and The Phoenix Comic.