I will start off with that I read Occulted on Edelweiss reader copy as it is due in May 2023. I also will say it ended abruptly, and I am wondering if there will be more to it in the final edition or a part two. This edition is heavily focused on the highlights of Amy Rose’s life as a young girl ending on note that could mean sequels are possible.
I will now say I think Amy Rose and I would have been friends as kids. She liked Star Trek, reading, her family, and learning things. The only thing really stopping us is she grew up in a cult and was told Star Trek was real. Real to the point that the men in the faith were called Vulcans, Roddenberry was one of the “enlightened ones” and that there were good and bad aliens (and the bad ones were in the government and had a thing for butts).
The religious aspect is relevant to show how it affected Amy, but the important thing is how Amy lived in, or at least survived, the cult. It is interesting to learn that she was only three when her father introduced the family to the group. And later, he realized how much control the Leader had over them (to the point of forced sterilization. The Leader really did not like kids). He left, but his wife and three daughters stayed. The oldest girl was banished (supposedly going to live with her aunt), the middle one eventually disappears (it is never said what happened) and finally Amy grows up and around age 12, she does the one thing you are not supposed to. Think.
The events that start Amy Rose’s journey is the comet she saw in the late 1990s and the Heavens Gate cult mass suicide. This is the first time she learned of the word. This is the first time she realized things might be “off” with her life. And we follow her journey until she studies astronomy and the real world. We as adults can see the issues, problems, and cult nature, but to see it through the adult eyes of a child growing up in it is a unique angle to take.
Ryan Estrada (co-author of Banned Book Club) co-authors Occulted and Jeongmin Lee illustrated the graphic novel. The illustrations support the text, in their black and white minimal detailed panels. The Leader perhaps is my favorite drawn character as everything you need to know about them is on the page. The other characters are not as fleshed out, but that is probably an active choice to show the Leader vs the members in their conformity.
Know your reader, but I would put the age range at least thirteen and up, but a strong reader (reading-wise and emotionally) can do it. I have included an image from My First Contact: Connected to the Truth web comic for comparison and a fun peak into the creators minds.