Alone Vol 8: The Arena

By Gazzotti & Vehlmann
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781849183826

The reason for the children’s predicament is now clear, and despite those unusual circumstances it does’t mean they’re in any less danger than they would be otherwise. Their small group has been taken by a much larger one and transported across the mountains to a town where a long-established group of children hold sway. But their way of doing things in this new community is based on your ability to fit in, so our group must stand a set of difficult and dangerous trials laid out for the entertainment of the populace and then be arbitrarily judged on the results.

There is also a suggestion that in this world, comprised only of children, there is a struggle between light and darkness, and the fear of the ruling figures is that our group of children represent a threat to their existence. So it’s trial after trial, with the odds stacked against them, and nobody appears to have their collective backs.

This more established community helps further expand and develop the overlying conceit of the narrative in that if this is a kind of limbo that all these children find themselves in, meaning they’re stuck in the childhood bodies they died in, then they’re now children forever. However, as individuals they continue to experience events, learn skills and accumulate knowledge, and so, over time and in some respects, they become like adults – engineers, surgeons, administrators, and so on – but trapped in a child’s body.

Also, now the reasons for the children’s situation have been fleshed out it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the mystery, and despite the nature of limbo it doesn’t mean their experiences are without peril or a worse fate, so there’s plenty more to get your teeth into and keep you reading. The creators continue to do a sterling job on this, balancing menace and peril with a captivating story, strong characters and artwork that chimes perfectly with the tone of the script.

If you’re not reading Alone, or haven’t bought it for your children (junior-school aged and up) then get on board as you won’t be disappointed. 

And if you liked that: Then volume 9 is on its way soon

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