By Penelope Shirey | Design Editor
“Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too” is more than a quaintly-illustrated book; underneath a façade of typos, simplistic drawings and idiosyncratic grammar lies a novel that somehow accurately depicts the human condition without ever introducing a human.
Author Jonathan Sun, better known by his penname Jomny Sun, is a Yale School of Architecture graduate and current doctoral candidate in urban studies and planning at MIT. The book, however, is based on his popular Twitter feed @jonnysun, which has more than 500,000 followers and features tweets styled the same way as the book’s text.
His Twitter followers aren’t the only ones picking up his book, though. Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known for starring in the Broadway musical Hamilton, offers a glowing review on the back cover: “Read this book only if you want to feel more alive,” he said.
After finishing this book within hours of receiving it, I had only comparable praise to offer as well. “Have you ever experienced something so beautiful you’re grateful just to have been a part of it?” I texted one of my friends. “That’s how I feel after reading this book.”
While the spelling may be off-putting or considered puerile, many readers connect well with the incredibly accessible personalities of each character introduced throughout the story. The graphic novel follows the life of an “aliebn” named Jomny, sent to “Earbth” to study “humabns.”
Instead, he encounters a variety of earthlings facing existential crises. An egg that wonders if hatching will be the pinnacle of its existence, an introverted hedgehog who wants to make art but is too self-critical and a tree frustrated by the idea of remaining in one location are just a few of the many “friemds” Jomny makes on his adventure.
This adventure is brought to life with simplistic illustrations, alternating between black backgrounds for scenes set in space and white backgrounds for those on
Earth. Words are sparse, with many pages only containing a sentence or two. Even the typeface, which at times varies to reflect the tone of the character speaking, is often styled to look like handwriting. This creates a disarming effect for subject matter that at times deals with weighty concepts.
The life lessons found within the puns, allusions and quotable one-liners are even more profound when juxtaposed with the quirky illustrations. One of the most prevalent themes of the book can be summed up in one quote: “when two aliebns find each other in a strange place, it feels a little more like home.” The ease with which Sun packages such formidable ponderings on life, love, death, identity and happiness into the unassuming musings of a curious alien quickly made this book one of my favorites.