OK, so I drew the cover on this book, so I should be biased. But actually, I avoided reading it for months because the excerpt I'd been sent to base t...moreOK, so I drew the cover on this book, so I should be biased. But actually, I avoided reading it for months because the excerpt I'd been sent to base the cover on was so potent and chilling I was frankly a bit scared of reading the rest.
Well, I shouldn't have worried. Wake is disturbing, and it did cost me some sleep, but it was so very worth it. Terrible things happen, but somehow it was made less horrible because the characters were there with me - an ensemble of fascinating, complex, utterly human people, whose companionship quickly felt intimate and important, as though I too was trapped in Kahukura with them, dependent on their courage and kindness and vulnerable to their frailties.
Wake is a masterful piece of storytelling: gripping, compelling, immersive, superbly structured and paced, beautifully told. But it's also much more than a powerful yarn; it's an instant New Zealand classic. Wake overflows with images, moments and details that resonate deeply in the Kiwi brain: from Belle's precious kakapo to the familiar sights of a quiet New Zealand seaside town - but turned, disrupted, intensified and altered by the intrusion of something unexpected and awful (in every sense of the word). These images are now a permanent part of my internal landscape of New Zealand, and Theresa, Bub, Belle, Oscar, Jacob, Warren, Curtis, Dan, Kate, Holly, Lily, Sam and even the visiting American William have entered my personal pantheon of iconic Kiwis. And The Wake itself (the No-Go, the Zone, the Madness) has become a mythical - symbolic - entry in that grim catalogue of New Zealand disasters and tragedies - natural and man-made - that haunt the collective national psyche.
In short, Wake is a New Zealand masterpiece. Don't be scared. Just read it.(less)
Torn between 2 stars and 3. I was pretty disappointed by this book in the end. It promises far more than it delivers. The initial chapters push the ar...moreTorn between 2 stars and 3. I was pretty disappointed by this book in the end. It promises far more than it delivers. The initial chapters push the argument that capitalism is a cultural phenomenon rather than a monolithic system governed by natural laws. There are some intriguing (albeit brief) discussions of the emergence of the modern idea of progress, and of ways in which notions of human nature changed during the early development of capitalism. All of this was fascinating and suggested the book would explore the history of the idea of capitalism and how our social and economic relationships have shaped each other over the centuries. Which it does; a little, and rather superficially.
Instead, much of the book is a chronology of technological change and an account of historical events and trends that influenced the spread and evolution of capitalism, rarely going deeper than an introductory text for beginners. You'll come away from it knowing something about who Rockefeller, Edison and Ford were, but with no real insight into what they reveal about the cultural, social or intellectual history of capitalism (beyond the most superficial clichés).
The second half of the book is its weakest, launching into a fairly predictable catalogue of historical landmarks of the 20th century (the world wars, the Depression, post-war prosperity, the oil shock, the rise of India and China, an endless list of new inventions), with brief and unsurprising nods to how each event impacted on the economy (who'd have thought the wars led to a period of increased government investment in the economy and a burst of technological innovation?). There are virtually no insights in here beyond the obvious things everyone already takes for granted and for much of these chapters I felt like I was sitting through a long and tedious recitation of a dull high school text book.
So: disappointing. I would *love* to read the book this promised to be, but I can't really recommend the book it actually is. In a word: superficial.(less)
Holy shit this book is amazing! One of the most powerful and distinctive graphic novels to come out in a long time. I can't recommend this strongly en...moreHoly shit this book is amazing! One of the most powerful and distinctive graphic novels to come out in a long time. I can't recommend this strongly enough - but brace yourself. It may make your skin crawl.(less)