Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if everyone was always nudged toward niceness? And wouldn’t that be easier if everyone’s friends were incentivized to do the nudging?
In Minna Sundberg’s graphic novel Lovely People,1 a community of adorable bunnies finds itself subject to a social credit system. At first Marigold, Peppermint, and Peony—a ladies’ coffee clique—thrill at the thought of gaining status just by being good. But it soon becomes clear that not all of them subscribe to the definition of “good” pushed by their ever-caring, ever-watchful rulers, and that even the slightest ideological deviation will endanger not only their own well-being, but that of everyone they know. Can their friendship—and Marigold’s faith in Christ—survive the raw flight response triggered by a crushing socioeconomic pressure campaign?
Lovely People offers luscious, luminous artwork and precise plotting similar to Sundberg’s long-running post-apocalyptic adventure/horror webcomic Stand Still Stay Silent. Lovely People, however, represents a hard pivot, inspired by the author’s recent conversion to Christianity, from that former series’ latent paganism. But don’t let the fluffy setting lull you. Lovely People is not only a bracing, unabashed ode to the full gospel, but an incisive omen that’s less science fiction than social commentary—a warning not against the fantastic schemes of faraway authoritarian regimes, but against the consumerism, conformity, and crowdsourced surveillance all too familiar to inhabitants of the modern West. Slavery, it turns out, can be gift-wrapped and delivered by drone, and ruthless persecution meted out with the loveliest of intentions.
Best for: Older children and adults seeking a critique of modern secularist society and curious where it’s headed, fans of fluffy bunnies.
Discern: Depictions of conspicuous consumption and teenage rebellion, characters are pressured to conform and shunned for failing to do so, lives are ruined on social media, a character denies her faith, and the Bible is characterized by a rating service as hazardous to your health.