Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Arrival *Review*

A stop at the library yesterday netted a first for me- a graphic novel. I have never read a graphic novel before but after reading a post written by At Home With Books I figured I had to give it a try. It seems graphic novels aren't just glorified Spiderman comic books similar to what my son picked out to use for his Reading merit badge for Boy Scouts several years ago.

Several graphic novels were listed in the post but alas, my regional library only carried two of them so I came home with both. The novel I sat down with yesterday- The Arrival by Shaun Tan, was not only my first graphic novel it was also my first ever wordless book (is that cheating?). I figured this 128p. book would be an easy start for me and I would be pounding out a review in just under 1/2 hour. Surprisingly, it took me a couple of hours to "read".

Without words, each picture must be carefully perused to make sure hidden meanings and subtle nuances are not overlooked. Each sepia-toned square of artwork tells a small part of the big story. When we see, after the main character boards a ship, 60 pictures of sky and clouds we understand the length of the journey he must endure as he leaves his homeland in search of a better life for him and his family. When we see the lines of people in the immigration halls we see the hour after hour wait to get identification papers. When we see the look of confusion and hopelessness on our hero's face we understand how hard it is to communicate with others who speak a language so foreign from their own.

I will admit I will never look at a graphic novel as just a comic book again. And while it will probably never be one of my favorite genres, I am intrigued enough to try a couple more. Do you read many graphic novels? What are some you would recommend?