Friday, December 9, 2011

"Any Empire" A Graphic Novel Review

Here is a review of a graphic novel that we requested from NetGalley. My husband, Wesley, will be writing this review.

About the Graphic Novel: Any Empire follows three kids in a Southern town as a rash of mysterious turtle mutilations forces each to confront their relationship to their privileged suburban fantasies of violence. Then after years apart, the three are thrown together again as adults, amid questions of choice and force, belonging and betrayal.

Nate Powell’s follow-up to the Eisner award-winning Swallow Me Whole examines war and violence and their trickle-down effects on middle America. As a gang of small-town kids find themselves reunited in adulthood, their dark histories collide in a struggle for the future.

Wesley’s Take:

I am a fan of graphic novels.  However, I am not a purist.  I like my art and books, especially graphic novels, to be entertaining.  That is my main goal.  If I have to try to interpret a painting, then most of the time I would rather move on to the next one.  If a book isn’t entertaining, then I am not impressed.  Unfortunately, Any Empire didn’t entertain me.

Please understand that this doesn’t mean that this wasn’t a well written graphic novel.  This is a story about a group of kids who grow up troubled and take that into their adulthood.  Sometimes, letting go of your past is the most difficult thing you ever have to do.

As I read this novel, I could totally feel the pain and angst of the main characters.  I could feel how they felt.  Being left out, not getting the girl, and not fitting in at all.  I even totally understand the pain of having to move.  All of the adults in your life tell you that it is fine and you will make new friends, or that not fitting in with that group is for the best.  But, when you are a kid in the middle of all of that, it really is the most important thing in the world.  And Nate Powell totally nailed those emotions.  I really felt that pain, and that takes some good writing.

But that isn’t entertaining to me.  I don’t want to relive those painful memories.  I left my childhood behind and try not to look back too much. Some parts were not fun, and frankly neither was this graphic novel.  On top of the emotions, it was often confusing to me with the different flashbacks that took place.  The ending then seemed to take a very odd twist into the realm of make believe that I totally didn’t get.  But, again, that really isn’t my thing.  I am sure there was some deeper meaning behind it all, but I just found it confusing.

Add onto that the fact that I read this novel as an electronic copy using a program that was terrible.  The pages scrolled so slowly that I never let go of the scroll button.  I couldn’t see an entire page at a time, let alone two pages side by side.  I realize that part of the appeal of a graphic novel is the visual impact is has on the page, so I missed out on that.  This experience has taught me that trying to read graphic novels electronically just isn’t a good idea.

So, overall, this was a fairly well written graphic novel.  But, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. 

I will give Any Empire … 2 BookWorms

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Top Shelf Productions through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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