Laika by Nick Abadzis

Laika by Nick AbadzisLaika by Nick Abadzis
Published by First Second on September 4, 2007
Genres: Graphic Novel, Historical, Science
Pages: 208
Source: I borrowed this book from my local library.
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Laika was the abandoned puppy destined to become Earth's first space traveler. This is her journey.
Nick Abadzis masterfully blends fiction and fact in the intertwined stories of three compelling lives. Along with Laika, there is Korolev, once a political prisoner, now a driven engineer at the top of the Soviet space program, and Yelena, the lab technician responsible for Laika's health and life. This intense triangle is rendered with the pitch-perfect emotionality of classics like Because of Winn Dixie, Shiloh, and Old Yeller.
Abadzis gives life to a pivotal moment in modern history, casting light on the hidden moments of deep humanity behind history.
Laika's story will speak straight to your heart.
Laika is the winner of the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens and an Eisner Award nominee for Best Reality-Based Work.



Soviet space dog Laika was the first animal to orbit the Earth. Nick Abadzis’s historical fiction/graphic novel focuses on Laika’s life and ultimate death, her kind and conscience-stricken (fictional) trainer, Yelena Dubrovsky, as well as the politics behind the Sputnik 2 mission.

If you know anything about Sputnik 2, you know you can expect some waterworks.

I have to comment on how much I love the way Yelena is drawn. Like any of us, there are times we appear totally put together—sometimes out of confidence, sometimes completely faking it because we have to —and times when we’re looking kind of rough, especially when we have the luxury of privacy. Abadzis captures it all, which makes Yelena relatable and incredibly realistic (especially as a female character in a graphic novel).

“This place…is a place where we do what we do best. Where we don’t let dogs be dogs…or even people be people.”

This story is a great argument for keeping science and government independent from each other. These characters tiptoe around each other out of fear of the Soviet government. They want nothing they say or do to be misconstrued, so they are very, very, very careful around each other. Scientists need the freedom to do what they know how to do, without outside influence and pressure to cut corners or come to particular conclusions. They shouldn’t feel the need to worry about making their country, their government, “look good.”

This is a fast, smart read. Very glad I found a copy at my local library.