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Luna Park

3.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  402 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
New York Times bestselling author Kevin Baker (Dreamland) writes his first original graphic novel, with internationally acclaimed artist Danijel Zezelj. Alik Strelnikov lives in the shadow of Coney Island, a world of silenced rides and rusting amusement parks that mock his dreams of becoming a hero. Ten years ago, he traded a brutal existence in the Russian army for the pr ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published November 17th 2009 by Vertigo (first published November 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 674)
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Mar 17, 2010 Delbert rated it did not like it
Do you like the idea of a decrepit Coney Island as a cheap metaphor for the insincerity of the Statue of Liberty? How about as a symbol for the modern decline of the American empire? But you don't feel like taking the train all the way to the edge of Brooklyn? Do you think Russians are interesting, but don't feel like familiarizing yourself with Russian history or literature by reading books without pictures? Fear not, our intrepid author gives, according to his ability, a panorama of Russian st ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Jan 15, 2011 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reason for Reading: The Russian historical aspects and the publisher's summary had me intrigued.

This is a very difficult book to give a summary as nothing is as it seems but let me tell you what appears to be happening as the book starts. Alik Strelnikov is a Russian immigrant who made a deal back in Russia which got him his freedom in America. This 'freedom' lead him to working for a second fiddle Russian mob group in Coney Island as an enforcer. Here he lives an existence with his girlfriend i
Jan 30, 2010 Craig rated it it was ok
A major league disappointment. Story was very confusing and circular in nature. The art was great, but too bad it came in combination with such a poorly-constructed story. I hate it when people who are really good at another genre come into a popular one like graphic novels (or mystery or science fiction) and think they're going to write the "great American novel" or whatever (they're going to revolutionize or "transcend" the genre). It generally means that what they've actually written is a poo ...more
Jul 25, 2016 Michael rated it it was ok
No hay que juzgar a un libro por su cubierta. O a un genero por su aura. Novela grafica prescindible, donde falta mucho de lo que creia iba a encontrar: desesperanza creible, una vida posible y negra, una historia lineal, y en su linealidad, realista.

Alik, ex soldado ruso, escapa del horror de la guerra y se instala en Coney Island. Trabaja para un mafioso, se enamora de una puta, se inyecta heroina para olvidar y no puede deshacerse de sus pesadillas, que lo esperan a cada vuelta de esquina. B
Sridhar Reddy
Jan 03, 2010 Sridhar Reddy rated it it was ok
Stories of New York City's multitude of ethnic communities has always been fascinating for me, as they reflect the eternal struggle of the American immigrant. There is the struggle to balance the adoption of a truly free society that allows you to forge your own, unique identity with the fears of losing the ancient cultures that largely define who we are. This is the struggle of the affections of the homeland and the motherland.

Kevin Baker delves us deep into the Russian immigrant communities o
Jul 14, 2015 Marie rated it really liked it
This book kind of broke my brain, but not for the twist ending (I'm so proud of myself: I picked up on the first subtle clue). Parts of it were staggeringly beautiful, and more of it was staggeringly heartbreaking.

I wish the art had a little more definition, but that's just personal preference. It's strong and evocative and suits the story well.

The story itself isn't what it seems at first and ultimately asks the question: is humanity doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again?

Nov 27, 2015 Brian rated it liked it
This was not really the story that I thought it was going to be after reading the back of the book. Not that the publisher's summary was wrong or misleading, but it was incomplete. The real point of the book is not the crime and gangs and prostitutes, but rather uses them to ask deeper questions. A much more "modern literature" type of story than I expected. I did enjoy it, though, and the severe left turn into surrealism that occupies the last third of the book was quite enjoyable once I figure ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Erika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I debated reviewing this since I know I'm not the target audience for this book and I hesitate giving it a starred review for that reason.

I was first interested in it for the art that I saw in an article, but sadly it turns out the art I saw that interested me was pretty much the only art in the book I enjoyed.

All of the art was done in shades of gray, black and browns and in the end just sort of blurred into each other making it hard to make out what was happening or to tell who was who and it
the gift
this is what great graphic work can do that no other medium does: intense, horrific, visuals. no hard working through text, the darkness is literal. no quickly passing scenes as in film. you can look, you can build the horror, you can never escape- the narrative is gripping, the artwork is beautiful, the layers of images like the best film, immediate and overwhelming as images in robbe-grillet. great work.
Dec 28, 2015 Sean rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
I enjoyed both the story and the art, and found myself transported into the haunting and violent world created by Baker and Zezelj. That is, until the last 4 pages which ruined the story and mood of the book, and left me thinking, "Huh?" Had it ended 4 pages sooner, this review would have been a lot more positive.
Feb 18, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok
Clever last third and ending, but the opening section of the book is horrifically slow. From a theoretical point of view, I appreciate the multi-level narrative, but the end result is a bunch of unfinished, un-compelling stories. The art is truly beautiful (in a tragic, depressing way), though.
Jul 04, 2016 Cale rated it liked it
I didn't know what to expect when I started this, and I'm still not entirely sure what I read. It definitely seemed very Russian in its story and themes, as a man finds himself trapped in a cycle of violence throughout multiple lives. The ending was very surprising, but did feel earned once I thought about it. The artwork is bleak and rough, with the color work adding to the emphasis. The story passes through several eras of 20th Century Russian history. The characters are unpleasant; they work ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Salamah rated it it was ok
The beginning of the story was good. It was about this man from Russia who was a soldier in a war and his girlfriend died while he tried to save her. He is living in Bk near coney island and meets another girl who he loves. This girl though works for a gangster who is taking over coney island. That is where the good stuff about this book ends. I did not like the drawings because it was difficult to know what you were looking at. So I had to concentrate ultra hard on the pictures. The ending was ...more
Jason S.
Nov 14, 2014 Jason S. rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels, 2014
Very circular. The present mirrors the past which mirrors the past which is all in the head of ... well, I'll keep that a secret if you choose to read it.
Jul 10, 2016 Tracy rated it liked it
This is a pretty cool story and I was impressed by the art. However, the twist/reveal is really subtle until the end and even then, I can imagine some readers just aren't going to get it. I think you have to understand the end (and the identity of the main character) to appreciate everything that comes before it or it won't make sense.

It was too complex for me to say it was enjoyable. I know that I don't know enough about Russian history to really understand some of the content. These are my on
Geoff Sebesta
Aug 09, 2014 Geoff Sebesta rated it really liked it
Wobbles in and out of greatness. A story that is not quite coherent, art that tries to pack just a little bit too much in.

Zezelj is his usual revolutionary self. There are not many artists out there better than this guy is. But the pacing is too dense, and the multiple layers of allegory are undone by Zezelj's failure to square the visual circle. You need characters who simultaneously look alike and different? That's a tall order for any comic book artist. The way it tends to turn out is that yo
Jun 24, 2012 Treruttan rated it really liked it
Two words: Mind fuck!
Ayman   zorkany
May 27, 2013 Ayman zorkany rated it liked it
اختيار اماكن ثابتة طول الرواية الجرافيك ومواقف راسخة دايما وشخصيات تلمس ارواحها قبل ما تعرف تفاصيلها المادية والتأكيد على ده باسلوب الرسم الغير محدد بـخط تحبير خارجى قوى " أوت لاين " تلات محطات مهمة وحيوية استطاع المؤلف بانصهاره الناجح مع الرسام انه يروح ويرجع ويتلاعب برشاقة معاهم متجاوز مشاكل الزمن والتفاصيل التى قد تبدو مهمة فى الواقع ولا تشعر بالحاجة اليها هنا ولكن تظل هنا المحطات تلك هى نقط ارتكاز الرواية الساحرة اللتى يأوى اليها القارئ كل شوية من تجميعه لتفاصيل واحداث يثرى بها تلك المحطات . ...more
Oct 18, 2013 M rated it did not like it
The worlds of Russian hardship and American dreams collide in Kevin Baker's historical fiction world of Luna Park. Former soldier Alik Streinikov is a man who has seen his ideals shatter like glass around him. Initially indoctrinated into the Russian army as a means of making something of himself, Alik finds that the true horrors of war are the cruelties inflicted upon mankind in the name of power. Escaping to New York, the former warrior finds himself scraping by as a mob enforcer amongst the t ...more
Bob Redmond
Apr 08, 2010 Bob Redmond rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphica, americana
Kevin Baker, author of the brilliant PARADISE ALLEY and other historical fiction, joins forces with painter and illustrator Daniel Zezelj for this first-rate graphic novel.

While set in Baker's familiar environs of Coney Island and lower Brooklyn, this book veers off at a sharp angle from the 19th and early 20th century New York chronicles for which he's best known. The book maintains historical rigor all the same, this time through the contemporary Russian culture around Brighton Beach and the b
Nov 01, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it
Stories about ex-Soviet gangsters in Brooklyn are kind of a trope at this point (especially in film), but this graphic novel offers them up in a new format with some striking artwork. Alik is a Russian veteran of the war in Chechnya who has come to Brooklyn to try and escape his dark past, which includes the loss of his true love. However, he's found escape of the wrong sort in heroin, and works as an enforcer for a small time Russian hoodlum. He's also obsessed with a beautiful fellow Russian h ...more
Jason Lilly
Jul 17, 2014 Jason Lilly rated it liked it
Too abstract and bizarre to make any sense. The best thing about this book is the artwork, which paints a surreal portrait of this dark and dreary world. Unfortunately, the story suffers. The characters lack the kind of depth expected in a story so glum and tragic. I should feel for their situation, but I just don't. And the I get it, but it don't get it. At least not enough to enjoy the book.
I'm pretty sure I've read this before but it was only vaguely familiar and even then I didn't feel motivated to keep reading. I can't fault the graphics or the writing itself, but I COULD NOT connect with the MC who just broods on his dreams and how morally bankrupt he, his native country and his adopted country were/are/will be. It's all very symbolic and morose and fatalistic in nature which I think was intended to be meaningful but was instead shallow and dull. Everything is presented in a so ...more
Jan 25, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
The historical details in this are great, and the plot is twisty in ways I didn't expect. Danijel Zezelj's art is also totally stunning. Unfortunately, this is very clearly the work of someone who doesn't understand the comics medium. The words crowd the art, explaining what doesn't need to be explained and distracting from the visual storytelling. And for the first 100 pages, the book is a real slog, a repetition of tropes that I find personally distasteful and sub-par crime fiction. The last f ...more
Sep 18, 2014 Trisha rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
There are at least one or two full spread scenes that are amazing. I loved most of the sepia strips of story. It started out as a really good "Fool me once" story. Then came some historical scenes, which were great until it became the whole story. I get where Kevin was going with in the theme, it was just too many war scenes than I expected.
Jun 10, 2014 Denali rated it really liked it
A tale of love, war & betrayal. There were large parts of this that I thought seemed sort of formulaic but I loved the overall concept. I won't say much more but it's a quick read so if you do have a chance to pick it up, it's worth it.
Ming Siu
Aug 03, 2015 Ming Siu rated it really liked it
A tad overwritten in terms of captions, but it's a twisty, complex tale with gorgeously evocative artwork. The ending is kind of love it or hate it, and I belong in the former camp.
Jun 26, 2014 Dan rated it liked it
This story seemed to jump all over the place in the end. I understood that it was political,but it got too weird,and didn't make sense.
Ula Lechtenberg
Read for Adult Popular Literature as a graphic novel selection. Beautiful and raw art, kind of confusing story, though.
Gregory Gay
From its description, Luna Park sounded like a noir fan's wet dream. Betrayal, crime, sex, a hooker that dabbles in fortune telling - come on. That's amazing.

The end result is fairly good, if told in a really confusing manner. By weaving together scenes of betrayal throughout history, the authors make a blunt statement about the realities of Russian history. The artwork is dreamlike - beautiful, but oddly abstract. It looks good, although the color palate felt a bit limiting at times.

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Kevin Baker is the author of the New York, City of Fire trilogy: Dreamland, Paradise Alley, and Strivers Row. Most recently, he's been writing about politics for Harper's Magazine and the New York Observer.
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