Book review: Space Cadet

Canadian-born DJ Kid Koala has an impressive resume. He’s worked with the likes of Gorillaz, Jack Johnson and, more recently, contributed to the score of the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This month Koala is back, but with something new to present: Space Cadet, a graphic novel with accompanying soundtrack.

Without giving too much away, the story follows a robot that has dedicated its whole existence to serving a young astronaut. After a turn of events, the robot finds himself alone, not sure where exactly he fits on this Earth without someone to guard. The robot considers taking up painting — he is lost. The story is told without words and in scratchy monotone sketches, both common tropes used to elicit sympathy for the characters involved. The art style is very basic, which is a little disappointing due to the fact that the story itself is simple and unassuming. The background of much of the graphic novel is outer space; there were many opportunities to create transfixing backgrounds to the story that were, unfortunately, wasted.

When Space Cadet is paired with the soundtrack there is a definite improvement. The music is soft, slow and obviously crafted with care. The sleepy, almost vapid nature of the tracks gives them a vast sort of feeling; the emptiness of space somehow seems within reach. If the lack of direction in the graphic novel made it difficult for you to emphasize with the lonely robot, the soundtrack gives it more of a cinematic feel. The first song is called “Main Theme (Open Your Book),” so you are meant to follow along.

Is Space Cadet great by itself? No, it’s good.

It’s not a hugely original story, and the art style doesn’t seem to take full advantage of what it could have been. The soundtrack alone isn’t amazing either, mainly because it goes along so slowly and so quietly; without the novel there is no plot to follow along with.

Together, however, the book and soundtrack are actually pretty good and could easily turn a quiet, rainy day into something more. Overall, there was a feeling of wasted potential when reading Space Cadet and hearing the soundtrack. Kid Koala is a great artist; it would have been wonderful to hear some sort of epic about how it feels to be the missing piece in a big universe. It is good, but Kid Koala could have given more. The idea was there but the execution doesn’t quite match the potential.