I am not sure whether I should categorize this as a serialized novel with heavy illustration, or as a graphic novel that is text intensive. Regardless, it is an impressive creation. The writing is brilliant and evocative, and the artwork sadly beautiful. I was truly moved after reading this first installment.
From what I gather so far, this is a story about a world after some virus or disease wipes out most of the life on the planet. The protagonist, Jonah Cooke, takes a job in a monitoring a station in a safe zone that listens for sounds of life. While this may sound like just another post-apocalyptic story, there is so much more depth to this than most works that fall into the genre.
Much of the text is comprised of memories from Jonah’s childhood where he relives the trauma of his mother’s death. As anyone who has lost a loved one can attest, this type of trauma runs deep and colors all aspects of your life. The metaphor of a frozen lake is used to describe the effects of the trauma; the sense that below the smooth surface of the ice is a cold, dark, watery place just waiting for a crack to appear and draw you down into the depths of utter despair.
Will it ever go away, you wonder? Or will it always be there, that shadow at the edge of things? But, even at a young age, you know the answer to that question, don’t you? You know it: of course not. Because it’s just there, so close to the surface.
It’s three at school, in the sickening way the cellophane peels off your sandwich.
Or there, in a shattered vein on your teacher’s calf.
Or there, in the scuffed nose of your action figure.
And there, in the weakening grip of the magnets on the board. In the erasures on your homework. In pens running out. In new sneakers that squeak so loudly, but go silent by end of day. In the small tear in the backseat of the bus, the wisp of stuffing you can’t push back in all the way. In the parade of blinking turn signals on the cars lined up at the red light by your house, on and off, on and off, ticking in some pattern that means nothing at all. And as the day ends, you feel it deepening, that shadow, becoming material. The blackness pooling below your nightlight. The deepest dark of that hallway that separates your room from your parents’.
All of it speaks to that same fucking water beneath the crust of things, moving and shifting and waiting, and you wonder, DOES ANYONE ELSE FEEL LIKE THIS?!
Are you alone?
Are you just messed up? Were you born missing something, some protective layer, some membrane that’s supposed to shield you from the sight of it–that water, right here, inches below.
The feelings conveyed here are so powerful and visceral, and I personally relate to them. I have lost people close to me and remember that feeling of impending doom, of apprehensively anticipating the ground to give out below at any moment. It takes a long time to heal from this type of trauma, and some people never do, which is what makes this such an intense work of art.
Book Two is already available. I will be getting it and sharing my thoughts on it soon. Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading challenging stuff.