I don't really know how to review this book, but I feel I need to. First off, it's the first thing I've read since Salem's Lot at age 13 that gave meI don't really know how to review this book, but I feel I need to. First off, it's the first thing I've read since Salem's Lot at age 13 that gave me nightmares. They weren't specifically related to Jack the Ripper, but I can't honestly say the mindset I was in afterward didn't put me in a nightmare-mood.
The truth about this book is that the Ripper murders are almost tangential to the point of the work itself. The story, which is largely fictional though based on fact, is about the cover-up conspiracy to keep the true reason behind the Ripper murders from becoming public. It's not that it's true that matters, it's that it's possible. I realized, towards the end, that all of this probably didn't but easily COULD have happened, and that there were likely similar atrocities in our collective history that have not been as well-publicized as Jack the Ripper's reign of terror that were more effectively covered up.
The point isn't that conspiracy theories are TRUE, it's just that they are POSSIBLE, and are therefore probably inevitable. Do I fall for Freemason conspiracies? Eh, not so much. Alan Moore himself says that while it's possible to believe in individual conspiracies, it's really just a comfort blanket protecting us from the much more terrifying truth: that no one is in charge, that all is chaos.
And the fact that these structures, these authorities are so patently corruptible, so prone to delusion, so HUMAN, is something we rarely think of. They are not mechanical, and they do not have things "in control," either benevolently or nefariously, and that in itself is the most terrifying part of reality, that things may be run by people like us.
As far as the quality of the writing and art, it's impeccable. All black-and-white, all extremely stark and realistic, this does not present a single character as a flawless comic-book superhero, but rather, presents everyone as flawed or even normal, and thus presents the grittiness of late 19th Century London in an extremely realistic fashion. This deserves all the acclaim it gets. Get over your dislike or hesitance towards graphic novels (or, if you must, comic books) and read this. -------------------- I re-read this in June of 2013, after I'd lived in Lilian Knowles House - formerly the Providence Row Night Refuge - for a year. This time I read the appendices along with each chapter, which gave me significantly more appreciation for this piece of work than I'd had before - which should say something, seeing as I gave it five stars at the time.
This is an incredible story, flawlessly executed. The research required to do it - into the history of London, the history of the Freemasonry, the psychology of murder, as well the personal histories of William Gull, Fred Abberline, the five victims, and virtually all of Victorian London - is staggering. And while it's clear he mainly draws on a few sources, some of which he admits as severely flawed, he's always honest enough to do so, and he painstakingly explains, page-by-page, what is factual, and what is invented. If you are not into graphic novels, read this. It's incredible....more
I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 just because it didn't connect with me like I thought it would. It's possible that's because I'd seen the Nolan BatmaI gave this 4 stars instead of 5 just because it didn't connect with me like I thought it would. It's possible that's because I'd seen the Nolan Batman movies before reading it (I know the Dark Knight drew a lot from The Killing Joke), or it's possible that since it ended up in every list of graphic novels I should read right behind Watchmen and Sandman, I thought it would be more in their league, but whatever.
The most striking thing about this book to me was how quickly I identified with the Joker's conception of insanity: "one bad day," as he said, can ruin you for life. And as an atheist/existentialist, I more or less believe that the universe doesn't hold an opinion about us either way, and that life may well be absurd or inherently meaningless. It's frightening to me, then, realizing that my existentialism shares a border with nihilism. Nihilism is a bit simpler - "Everything is meaningless" - than existentialism - "It's meaningless, but struggle anyway" - which I think is the far nobler and less cowardly philosophy, but it's always frightening when you feel that you relate more to the villain than the hero, especially when they are as sadistic and frightening as the Joker.
This obviously makes the Joker one of the better villains out there - the fact that he has a coherent worldview and isn't just out for power or money, that he's an idealist rather than an opportunist - and that's also what makes this comic slightly unnerving. It's the type of story I could see pushing someone not of sound mind over the edge into a realm where they'd be willing to adopt this view, but I think that danger makes art and literature all the more intriguing. Good book, just not one of my faves....more
This is my favorite Batman comic - even above the Killing Joke or the Dark Knight Returns. The Killing Joke was good, but was one of my least favoriteThis is my favorite Batman comic - even above the Killing Joke or the Dark Knight Returns. The Killing Joke was good, but was one of my least favorite Alan Moore comics, and Frank Miller creeps me out a little bit, being a straight up fascist and all (though I enjoyed Batman: Year One).
This was good, though. All of the best Batman villains (except maybe Bane), lots of awesome Catwoman stuff, the Harvey Dent story... not bad. I could've done without the constant, every-chapter reminder that Carmine Falcone was "Gotham's untouchable crime lord," but whatever, that's the nature of comics. Real good....more
I really hope she keeps churning out books like these. This ranks in second place so far, right behind In the Woods, but you don't really need to readI really hope she keeps churning out books like these. This ranks in second place so far, right behind In the Woods, but you don't really need to read them in order, and of the three protagonists, Frank Mackey is the most likeable. Anyway, if you don't like mysteries, don't write these books off. They are, to some extent, about the mystery, but they are more focused on the characters, their histories, and what the characters look like when pushed to the brink. She doesn't go easy on them, she shows you who they truly are and how their histories have legitimately messed them up. There was more redemption in this one than in the other two, but it was probably more deserved. I also think in this one she had a firmer grasp on the Irish identity of her characters, though in the other two, her characters were a little bit more posh, less working class, and not necessarily identified as much with their Irish-ness.
Anyway, if you need to ease into this series, I'd say start with this book, then move to the better In The Woods, and if you're hooked enough after that, you'll enjoy the Likeness, though it's most definitely the weakest of the three....more
Obviously this is a classic and blah blah blah, but a few quick notes as to why it gets three stars instead of 4 or 5:
First off, it was impossible toObviously this is a classic and blah blah blah, but a few quick notes as to why it gets three stars instead of 4 or 5:
First off, it was impossible to not notice the anti-Semitism with which Fagin was depicted. He's just SUCH a hardcore stereotype that it was pretty distracting. Which isn't to say he wasn't an effective villain, or that he wasn't even creepier than the psychotic Sikes, it's just to say that the anti-Semitism was excessive and distracting.
The second point is that I have difficulty with any Victorian literature that portrays its characters as totally pure. It seems to be a trend in Vic Lit (which I'm totally taking the credit for coining) to make the heroes pure, and it makes them insanely boring. I could not give two shits about Oliver Twist or Rose, but I wanted to hear more on the Artful Dodger, Sikes, Nancy, Fagin, and Charley Bates. It makes the villains the only people in the story that feel real, and this can be frustrating sometimes, because in Vic Lit, the bores always win.
It's obviously a great piece of social criticism, and I appreciate that, but my final and third thought is this: the "umph" of the brutality of Oliver's upbringing was kind of sucked out by the revelation that he was actually of relatively high birth, and his angelic nature that refused to turn bad SEEMED to support the type of thinking that people of "higher birth" are purer than the low people of the streets, like the criminalized Nancy, Dodger, and Bates. While you've gotta praise Dickens for condemning the conditions in London at the time, these ideas make the book hard to really feel gung-ho about in terms of its politics, unlike, say, Les Miserables....more
This book reads like a nightmare. I said, a few weeks back, that I couldn't remember reading a book I got less enjoyment out of than Trout Fishing inThis book reads like a nightmare. I said, a few weeks back, that I couldn't remember reading a book I got less enjoyment out of than Trout Fishing in America, but this does it. It seems my problem is in seeking out satirical masterpieces, because apparently you can write unfocused tripe and call it "satirical" and get some sort of great acclaim.
Not that there weren't occasions when I thought he was clearly a great writer. The first and last passage feel like something out of Hunter Thompson - who I absolutely love - but the 95% of the book in between these two sections is basically a hodge-podge of incoherent babble. Yes, a lot of it is obscene, but that's really not my complaint about it. I think he uses the obscenity as a mask for his lack of focus, for his lack of ability to make the book even remotely readable. If you're into violence, pedophilia, and other gross titillating bullshit, then maybe you'll like this. Otherwise, it'll look to you like it looked to me: like the ramblings of a man who's stoned out of his gourd on junk.
In that sense, the fact that there's any coherence at all is a feat. Clearly, it took a great writer who was stoned to the point of incoherence to write this book. But that's as much as you could say for it.
I know most of the really great modern satirical books don't necessarily follow a coherent or well-structured plot, and in the case of Catch-22, Slaughterhouse-Five, and The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it works because the writer has some regard for their audience and makes the frequent asides and digressions amusing and worthwhile, but this, more than any piece of beat work I've ever seen, best matched Truman Capote's complaint about On the Road: "It's not writing. It's typing."...more
God, Lovecraft is great at being super creepy. I actually would have liked a bit more from this book - the first part is incredibly atmospheric and eeGod, Lovecraft is great at being super creepy. I actually would have liked a bit more from this book - the first part is incredibly atmospheric and eerie, and the second part is super tense, but I could have done with a third part. I feel like the appearance of the Deep Ones was unfortunately short. Which I suppose means I just have to read a whole lot more Lovecraft.
It's definitely a bit jarring - between this and the Call of Cthulhu - to see as much latent and explicit racism as there is in some of his stories. I know he was a eugenicist and a racist, but the use of terms like "half-caste" and "mongrel," not to mention entire themes based on "tainted blood" are always kind of alarming to see in print, especially in the middle of a story you happen to be quite enjoying at the moment. It's impossible to separate the art from the artist though, I suppose. Still worth a read. The ending is particularly spectacular....more
It's okay, as far as dystopian books go. It was a bit too short to be as epic as it tried to be: they're fighting the Lost Boys! They're running throuIt's okay, as far as dystopian books go. It was a bit too short to be as epic as it tried to be: they're fighting the Lost Boys! They're running through Antarctica! They're killing tigers! It seemed like it was trying a bit too hard. Also, the worry is one that matters a little bit less now that we're in the future as it did back then, in the age of Soylent Green... overpopulation, for example, is listed as 6 billion in the novel, and it just hit 7. So that and it's kinda half-assed political message ("We should be allowed to grow old!" Yeah, no one disagrees with you there) made the whole subtext a little bit ludicrous.
I realized with this one that the entire reason I was hanging on to the Preacher series was the Saint of Killers. Otherwise, this was just a series ofI realized with this one that the entire reason I was hanging on to the Preacher series was the Saint of Killers. Otherwise, this was just a series of weird tales designed to shock with their violence and depravity (and I don't mean that in any puritan sense, I mean what with all the incest-jokes and gross-out drawings), with no real substance outside that. The Saint of Killers only briefly shows up in this one, and that just ain't enough for me. I'm giving up on this series.
And SERIOUSLY? Laurel and Hardy are better than Charlie Chaplin? Are you STONED, Garth Ennis?...more
I think Frank Miller's one of those guys who is great if you just kind of ignore the somewhat sadistic and misogynistic basis of all of his Sin City bI think Frank Miller's one of those guys who is great if you just kind of ignore the somewhat sadistic and misogynistic basis of all of his Sin City books. Reading these are like watching a Tarantino movie: you're mildly alarmed at the delight you're feeling while viewing the ruthless violence, and you're less surprised but still uneasy at the enjoyment of the depiction of women, but you can't really help liking it.
I don't have a defense. Maybe it's because it's borderline porn at parts and is, like every other Frank Miller thing I've seen, uber-masculine to the nth degree, thus appealing to baser senses. But the snappy dialogue and the gorgeous black-and-white art probably give it SOME artistic merit. I know I shouldn't like it, and from what I've read in some of Frank Miller's interviews he IS a bit of a misogynist and a slight racist as well - with female empowerment looking like a prostitute with a gun - but I'll be damned if he isn't talented....more
As a few others have pointed out, the pace is slower in this one than the previous volumes. This, I think, is necessary in a story this long - they haAs a few others have pointed out, the pace is slower in this one than the previous volumes. This, I think, is necessary in a story this long - they had to get serious at SOME point - and I'd hardly say its any less funny, but it's definitely more somber, and that's what loses it the star, not a lack of quality, just a sadder tone. Still wonderful....more
Really solid. Scorcher's not as likable a character as the other protagonists in this series, but she handles that really well - and this is the firstReally solid. Scorcher's not as likable a character as the other protagonists in this series, but she handles that really well - and this is the first of her books that seems to have a political or social message to it, which is always cool. Fingers crossed that Richie makes another appearance in these books....more
Normally, when I read books this fast, it's because the writing is easy, but not particularly good. Not so for Gillian Flynn: she's an excellent writeNormally, when I read books this fast, it's because the writing is easy, but not particularly good. Not so for Gillian Flynn: she's an excellent writer and an excellent storyteller. I will be checking out more of her stuff.
Plotwise, I don't want to say much for the sake of spoilers - just that it's incredibly well put-together, and is a pretty steady mindfuck throughout. The characters are tough to like, but they're interesting enough and the plot moves at such an incredible clip that their awfulness never frustrated me that much. Also, it makes it that much more disturbing, to see such horrible people acting and thinking in ways that feel so creepily familiar. ...more
Pretty good, clever, entertaining. I'd give it more stars, but it didn't really wow me. The thing I loved most about it was Lemony's Snickets voice. IPretty good, clever, entertaining. I'd give it more stars, but it didn't really wow me. The thing I loved most about it was Lemony's Snickets voice. It is fantabulous....more