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The Electric State

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  1,462 ratings  ·  300 reviews
NPR Best Books of 2018

A teen girl and her robot embark on a cross-country mission in this illustrated science fiction story, perfect for fans of Ready Player One and Black Mirror.

In late 1997, a runaway teenager and her small yellow toy robot travel west through a strange American landscape where the ruins of gigantic battle drones litter the countryside, along with the d
Kindle Edition, 144 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Skybound Books (first published December 1st 2017)
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Monica I think it has to do with the map. There's a circle off the coast, with a dot on the town where she found him.
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4.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,462 ratings  ·  300 reviews

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Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trish by: Dennis
My friend Dennis asked me to look for a number of books while I was in London last week. This was one of them. When the Waterstones employee handed it to me, the first thing I noticed was the vibrant colour and the realism of the artwork. Naturally, I started flipping through the book. I brought it back to Germany for my friend but, of course, have read it first now. ;P

Before this little adventure, I had never heard of this Swedish author although he seems quite well-known. I also didn't really
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story is good, but the art is phenomenal.
Edward Lorn
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Astounding artwork, a poignant, heartbreaking story, and one helluva presentation, all make this a pitch-perfect experience. Reading this was an utter joy. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about it. While the pricetag is high, it's worth every penny. Do not confuse this with a coffee table art book. It deserves your complete attention. Easily one of the best books of 2018. Dig it.

Because it's fantastic and deserves a proper review.


All the stars!

This book is a piece of art! Literally. It's like nothing I've ever read before.

I took a lot of pictures and now have to decide which ones to use for my review. The light got a little bad towards the end. So I'll also have to retake some of them tomorrow. Therefore the review will take some time. But this book is worthy of the effort. I loved every second of it.


It goes straight onto my favori
Adam Smith
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To say I love Simon's art is an understatement, so this book could have been all pictures and still attained 5 stars. Behind the art however is a story: it is a roadtrip across an alternative version of USA in the 90s, one filled with a mixture of analogue and digital and a curious array of science-fiction artefacts left to rust and decay after an apparent 'event'. Or are they?

The story is told using a mixture of the art and the writing, often using the writing to delve into some character backs
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cataloged_it

Whatchya lookin' at, there, buddy?

This was definitely one of those right reads/right times dealios but even had that not been the case, this would have gotten a solid 4 stars out of me.

The art is incredible, all trippy photorealistic pastoral scenes of landscape and machinery, mostly. However, it's not all popartscifi; there's emotion and body language and ambiance and all sorts of other stuff that art people would appreciate and that I cannot clarify.

The story that goes along with the page-swe
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't even know of this book until last week - okay I have to work on my patience as I dropped (not literally) everything else I was reading to start this book and unfortunately I finished it that night.

The work of Simon Stalenhag was brought to my attention by my brother who loves this kind of artwork (and usually waits for me to buy it so he can read it).

Now up until recently I thought he only did art - not realising he had used some of that art to create this bitter sweet story with yes
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A runaway teenager (Michelle) and her yellow toy robot (Skip) travel west through a post-apocalyptic United States. Many people have been turned into zombies by virtue of being plugged into neurocasters, which seem like a VR headset with full sensory experience. This dystopian landscape is littered with ruined battleships and technology. Michelle and Skip are inexorably headed towards a coastal town for reasons that become evident at the end. This is properly classified as a narrative art book, ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
holy fuck
Tilly Booth
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
GUYS this was such a wonderfully weird book and as soon as I saw this come in at work, I was like "YES THIS IS RIGHT UP MY ALLEY" and I was right!!!!

This story is a puzzle with bits of information from chapters and stunning artwork laid out in front of you for the reader to put together. It's set in a sci-fi apocalyptic world and it's pretty damn epic.

You follow a young girl called Michelle and her yellow robot, Skip. I'm not going to spoil anything but THE ENDING. YOU'LL SEE. BECAUSE YOU SHOUL
I'm a big fan of this fella's art, he does stunning stuff. Eerily beautiful and horrifying all at once, I really need to get hold of the Tales from the Loop and the Flood art books.
In the beginning, God created the neuron, and when electricity flowed through the three-dimensional nerve cell matrix in the brain, there was consciousness. The more nerve cells the better, and our brains contain hundreds of billions of neurons; that's why we make better lasagna than chimpanzees.

The Electric State is the third of Simon Stålenhag's graphic novels, and by far the most ambitious in story. Where the first two were reminiscences, this time we follow our protagonist and her brother on
Emelie Eriksson
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simon Stålenhag can draw AND write! Sometimes, the sentences were a bit too long and "flat" for my liking though. And the ending was a bit abrupt. Other than that, I loved this book. I've grown tired of stories set in the apocalypse/post apocalypse the last couple of years, because they've all felt the same. "Passagen" is different though, at least for me. I've never seen or read something similar before.
Matthew Hunter
Wow. I've read plenty of unsettling works in my time, but Stalenhag's The Electric State might take the cake. The author uses a Wacom tablet and computer to create artwork resembling oil paintings. The dreamy, gritty photorealism of the illustrations, combined with disorienting nostalgia (?) for a past re-imagined (the post-apocalyptic landscapes littered with massive warships and goofy-faced battle drones are snapshots of life in 1996/97) makes for one creepy read.

Stalenhag gives up contextual
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, recommend
The illustrations alone are a reason to read this book. I requested if from the library, expecting a hardback book, but it's more of a smaller "coffee table" book. The story was frighteningly unique, and seemed a called to humankind to monitor its dependence of technology. The landscape is the stuff of nightmares and haunted me throughout the book. Even after finishing it my head whirled with scenes of battleships falling from the sky and VR advanced helmets attached to peoples head. I highly re ...more
Bonnie McDaniel
I don't think I've ever read a graphic novel like this. It's almost a picture book, with the gorgeous art telling as much of the story as the text. This is a cyberpunk alternate history set in the alt-90's of a decaying America that has splintered into several smaller states: the protagonist is on her way to "Pacifica," for instance. We are plunked abruptly down in the aftermath of a drone war, in the midst of a sort of virtual reality zombie apocalypse. This stems from the "neurocasters," VR he ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is like nothing I have read before. I guess “read” only covers part of the experience, as words are sparsely used, and act as framing for the incredible art that dominates every page.
This is a haunting tale of a young woman cautiously travelling through a collapsed society, heading for the coast, and something lost. Through her narrative (and sometimes from the powerful artwork alone) we slowly figure out what has happened, and what she is seeking, as pieces of the puzzle drop into place.
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very eclectic book, a merger of a book, a hybrid of a book, somewhere on the borderline between a picture book, a comic book, a traditional book and even an installation book.
The story per se will never be complete without the illustrations, and the illustrations will never tell the whole story -it is a truly symbiotic book. The illustrations are also quite realistic, and they resemble the court sketches in the attempt to add authenticity to the narrative.

The story, on the other hand
Chris Greensmith
"What we're doing isn't civilised. I know that. But I know it must have happened to you too. Like me, you must have woken up one day and suddenly realised the inevitable: we no longer live in civilised times.
You're almost upon them. Walter. It is almost over."

I needed more, but I was satisfied. Beautiful, real artwork, incredible artwork! The story was very poignant, very apt. Just a great, read, I loved it, so rich...5 🌟
Philip Shade
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I really wasn't looking for beautiful, mysterious, and heart wrenching; but here you have it.

What I love about libraries is I can pick up random books, because they look interesting, and not worry about spending money or finding place fo rat ebook to live. I figured Electric State was just an art book with an interesting concept; putting giant, derelict, robots into everyday settings. From about pages one I found myself immediately drawn into a dark, and foreboding alternate reality/post-war Ame
I read this in one go, in a dream state. It's like nothing else I've ever read – a mix of the immersive, visual worldbuilding of a computer game, and the introspective prose of a novel. I've already bought Stålenhag's other two books, and I can't wait to be immersed in them.
This is a very beautiful and epic story from a young Swedish artist. It is definitely one of the most atmospheric graphic novels I've read in my life, thanks to the illustrations that bring everything that's happening to life. They are so details that at times it seemed that I'm looking at real photos.

The story (meaning the textual part of it) is almost as good as the images. Yes, I believe the text in this book is secondary. At first it's pretty hard to tell what's going on because the author t
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopian, sci-fi
Gorgeous art and sci-fi story set in 1997 with a whole lot of heart.
The story and images of Simon Stålenhags retro-future Passagen (or as it will be called in English: The Electric State) are much, much darker compared to his earlier works. Coherent, eerie, very intense and not so little disturbing, this is dystopia as I like it best.
Julia Waters
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Something inside me wanted to stop the car and get out, to walk up to them and touch them and closely examine every single one of these strange growths. In another reality I would have loved this. I would have calmly walked these streets, fascinated - certainly with a degree of disgust, but rapturous, pleasant disgust.”

Well, I am rapturously, pleasantly disgusted. The grotesque beauty of this book’s imagery and story has fed my soul. It reminds me a lot of Zdzislaw Beksinski’s work, which is s
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many people, I also was immediately drawn to this book for the illustrations. By themselves they would already hint at a fascinating story. Moments which leave me staring and entirely creeped out even as I'm admiring the beauty. With text to tell us of what the characters think it becomes something of an eerie travel log. Glimpses of the rapid decline in civilization and the quiet devastation of moving across the states. An entirely satisfying whole and very quick read.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous, haunting art.
Briar Ripley
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In an alternate universe 1997, a teenage girl and her robot companion travel from the desert of the American southwest towards the Pacific ocean on a mysterious quest, not knowing that they're being pursued by a sinister man for equally mysterious reasons. The landscape through which they travel is littered with wreckage and detritus from a war fought by high-tech giant robots and airships a few decades previous, as well as increasing signs of a civilization collapsing as more and more people be ...more
Michael Bafford
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Pilkington
*3.5 stars

A haunting story, with an often meandering style, about a girl and her toy robot as they travel west across a devastated US., Stalenhag's evocative writing gave me the creepy, atmospheric vibe I wanted. And since that writing was paired with amazing artwork, it sucked me right into the bleakness of this world.

But, as I kept reading, I was left wanting more. Instead of bringing me closer to the main characters, the tangential nature of the flashbacks felt like a jolt whenever we were t
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All I had hoped for and more 1 16 Dec 26, 2017 03:56PM  

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Konstnären och författaren Simon Stålenhag är mest känd för sina digitala målningar som ofta visar vardagliga scener med fantastiska inslag. Efter sitt genombrott 2013 har Stålenhag publicerat två böcker om ett alternativt 1980- och 90-tal på Mälaröarna utanför Stockholm. Ur varselklotet (2014) och Flodskörden (2016) har hyllats både i Sverige och utomlands. Den ansedda tidningen The Guardian kora ...more
“Do you know how the brain works? Do you have any idea of what we know about how the brain and consciousness work? Us humans, I mean. And I'm not talking about some new-age hocus-pocus, I'm talking about the sum of the knowledge compiled by disciplined scientists over three hundred years through arduous experiments and skeptic vetting of theories. I'm talking about the insights you gain by actually poking around inside people's heads, studying human behavior, and conducting experiments to figure out the truth, and separating that from all the bullshit about the brain and consciousness that has no basis in reality whatsoever. I'm talking about the understanding of the brain that has resulted in things like neuronic warfare, the neurographic network, and Sentre Stimulus TLEs. How much do you really know about that?
I suppose you still have the typical twentieth-century view of the whole thing. The self is situated in the brain somehow, like a small pilot in a cockpit behind your eyes. You believe that it is a mix of memories and emotions and things that make you cry, and all that is probably also inside your brain, because it would be strange if that were inside your heart, which you've been taught is a muscle. But at the same time you're having trouble reconciling with the fact that all that is you, all your thoughts and experiences and knowledge and taste and opinions, should exist inside your cranium. So you tend not to dwell on such questions, thinking “There's probably more to it” and being satisfied with a fuzzy image of a gaseous, transparent Something floating around in an undefined void.
Maybe you don't even put it into words, but we both know that you're thinking about an archetypical soul. You believe in an invisible ghost.”
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