Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Iron: Or, the World After by Shane-Michael Vidaurri

I always say I am a fan of graphic novels, but as I sat down to write my review for this one, I realized I have never reviewed a graphic novel on the blog before.  I think I'll skip my usual Writing/Entertainment Value review, but my review for the "writing" will also include the artwork and focus more on the story telling and originality, since most graphic novels don't have that much actual writing in them.  I'm also going to use the publisher's description from Goodreads to summarize:

IN A WORLD OF CONSTANT WINTER... When an intelligence spy from the Resistance-the rabbit, Hardin-steals secret information from a military base of the Regime, his actions set off a chain of events that reverberates through the ranks of both sides, touching everyone from the highest-ranking official to the smallest orphaned child. When the snow finally settles, who will be the true patriot and who the true traitor?

I feel like the story itself was trying a little hard.  It was super vague and it took me a good half of the book to figure out what was actually going on.  The vagueness felt intentional too - like the author was wanting it to be very deep and intellectual and thought-provoking, but instead it was just hard to understand the basic story.  I'm sure there is some philosophical statement in there somewhere that was being made about war and regimes and loyalty and the effects on children, but it was trying too hard to make those statements overtly ambiguous and wound up just being muddy.

The characters, however, were fantastic.  Once I finally figured out what exactly was going on plot-wise, I came to really appreciate the individuality of each character and his or her motivations.  For me, in terms of story, the highlight was not the plot or the overall message, but seeing the motivations of each character and getting insight into what made them who they are.  It's really cool that the author was able to do this in a graphic novel with so little text.

As far as the artwork goes, I have absolutely no complaints.  I read the book on Adobe Digital Editions so I could see color and so that the images would be larger.  I hate reading graphic novels on my ereader.  It makes it really hard to pick up detail.  Anyway, this is done in an ink-wash style, which I have read is very difficult, but the results are absolutely gorgeous.  I highly recommend reading this one on a large screen or in paper format because I think a lot of the gorgeous details would be missed on a small or black and white screen.

Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to review this one!


  1. I haven't read a graphic novel in a really really long time- if ever. I love that you do book reviews on your blog! :)

  2. I think I will check this out of the library and give it a try. I enjoy graphic novels. Last month I pitched the graphic novel Persepolis to my book group and they read it! It was a stretch but I think they all appreciated how much impact the format had. What are some of your fav's? I like Pyongyang, Blankets and all the Maus books. Thanks for your reviews. Very helpful!
    KD from SC