Yesterday I reviewed a realistic and unusual novel called Dead Inside: Do Not Enter: Notes from the Zombie Apocalypse. Twenty-four hours later, I figure it's time to review another zombie book. This one is a graphic novel called Daybreak, by Brian Ralph. He's a "professor of sequential art" at the Savannah College of Art and Design, but don't let his academic title scare you off. His 160-page novel is a creepy look at a day in the life of people who are scratching out a miserable existence in the aftermath of a zombapocolypse.
Ralph cleverly presents the story as if you, the reader, are living in this grim, horrid wasteland. Each panel is angled from the perspective of the reader. The characters talk to you. Here's the first page:
Your companion in this story is a young one-armed man who discovers you staring in a field of rubble and takes you under his remaining wing by inviting you into his hideout. He has good intentions, but since this is a zombie novel, things quickly go to hell. And while the threat of zombies is ever-present, the real trouble comes from another source. I won't spoil the story by telling you what happens.
Ralph's fine storytelling is matched by his textured, deceptively cartoony artwork. After reading Daybreak (it's a fast read), I went back and studied the panels so I could soak in the backgrounds and linework. I missed Ralph's earlier work, the award-winning Cave-In, and now I'm looking forward to reading it.
I found John Hodgman's Vacationland to be a genuinely moving and hilarious read; and it has stuck with me in the year since its hardcover release -- now it's out in paperback, and Hodgman is touring with it.
UK writer Claire North's 84K is a grim tale of a near-future Britain in which Toryism has come to its logical extreme, with all functions of the state assumed by a single massive corporation, and with all human life weighed and priced by how "socially useful" it is.
Mohsin Hamid's Exit West is a science fiction novel with a simple, allegorical premise: what if the poor, oppressed, and alienated could simply vanish through mysterious doorways and emerge somewhere else?
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