Let’s talk about the terrific trilogy I just read! Presenting…
Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn is a futuristic love story set not too far from now, when robots are a part of everyday life, people’s smart phones have been replaced by devices implanted directly into their temples, and the search for meaning and humanity is as present as always.
Alex is a disaffected twenty-something at the start of the story, lonely after the end of a relationship, and lacking much purpose in his life. To cheer him up, his wealthy grandmother gives him a gift — an X5, the latest in life-like androids. The X5 looks and feels like a real person, and is programmed to please its owner. Yes, in all ways.
Alex is perturbed by this gift — he has no interest in having an android for a companion. But as he spends more time with Ada, he wonders whether there’s more than meets the eye. When he learns about an underground movement that holds the secret to enabling androids’ sentience, he realizes that he can only be happy with Ada if she’s capable of choosing to be with him as well. Sentience for robots, however, is strictly against the law — and when a sentient robot goes on a rampage and kills humans, there’s an immediate backlash against all robots.
Alex and Ada, meanwhile, pursue their goal of sentience, and in the process, fall deeply in love. There’s no place in the world for a couple like them, and they’re forced to hide and go on the run. Meanwhile, the political debate concerning equal rights for sentient artifical intelligence continues to rage, and social change seems inevitable.
The Alex + Ada trilogy tells a powerful story of love and connection, while also asking some fundamental questions about what makes a person a person. Does one need bones and blood to be human? Are feelings that stem from a constructed system any different from feelings generated by an organic human brain? And what about free will?
The artwork in Alex + Ada is minimalistic and spare, but beautiful all the same. The eyes of the characters are expressive, and their body language is clear and evocative. The illustration style supports the narrative, and I really appreciated the uncluttered but eye-catching look of the books.
The three volumes of the story work together to tell one seamless story, and my only regret is that I read them with intervals in between. I’d love to go back at some point and read all three straight through, as I think the dynamics and flow of the story would be even more powerful when read as a whole.
Alex + Ada is graphic storytelling at its finest. I highly recommend this gorgeous trilogy
Title: Alex + Ada, volumes 1 – 3
Author: Sarah Vaughn
Illustrator: Jonathan Luna
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication date: 2014 – 2015
Length: 128 – 136 pages
Genre: Graphic novel