Matthew's Reviews > Chew, Vol. 1: Taster's Choice

Chew, Vol. 1 by John Layman
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Jul 17, 10

bookshelves: graphic-novels, sci-fi, crime-thriller
Read from June 28 to July 10, 2010

** spoiler alert ** I forget who actually said it first, but often the landmark of a really interesting sci-fi work is to take a single idea---an invention, an event, a concept, whatever-----stretch it out as much as possible, and then build a world around it. This graphic novel is the perfect example of how to do this. Tony Chu is a cibopath. A what? Well a cibopath is a psychic of sort, except the powers relate entirely to food. Whatever Chu chews (ha ha) he absorbs its full history----its life, its death, how it was cooked and prepared. This particularly rare talent is particularly useful when you work for the FDA, which in this near-future world investigates illegal food bars (mostly chicken because of a bird flu pandemic). Chu's partner is also a cibopath, but also a bit paranoid and makes some strong hints about government and corporate conspiracies to control the population through their food. Mixing noir with quirky sci-fi, I see touches of Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison and others in this.

The cartoony artwork lends itself really well to the story here---it not only gives them some fun flexibility in the action scenes but creates a nice way to portray some of the vile and disgusting food Chu gets involved with without grossing out the reader. My only reservation for not giving this five stars is because I didn't feel like I got enough of the story in this volume to judge where it's going; vol 1 here largely just sets the scene.
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