Kelly's Reviews > Minus

Minus by Lisa Naffziger
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did not like it
bookshelves: comics, read-in-2019, reviewed

** spoiler alert ** One of the worst comic books I've ever read.

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for child abuse and trauma. This review contains spoilers. )

The plot for Minus struck me as interesting enough: Beck and her paranoid, home-schooling dad are on a road trip to the University of Chicago, where Beck has just been accepted. She runs into a convenience store at a rest stop to use the bathroom and, when she comes out, the place is ransacked; the clerk, shot dead; and her father Gil, vanished (along with the car and her cell phone). Now, alone in the middle of nowhere, this kinda-sorta naive young woman has to figure out just WTF to do.

Sadly, this is just a giant train wreck of a story:

* The rest of the plot? Totally predictable. You know that Gil abducted Beck pretty much from the get-go. It's like a badly written episode of Law & Order: SVU. There is no mystery in this mystery. In fact, it's really damn boring.

* Despite finding out that Gil kidnapped her from a loving home, Beck stubbornly sticks by his side. While this may very well be an accurate portrayal of the trauma abducted children experience, Naffziger's treatment of it is hideous, and reads like a celebration of Stockholm Syndrome. The adults around Beck kind of protest lightly (by which I mean in a panel or two), but nowhere do we see her getting counseling or, I don't know, being exposed to a counter-narrative from her (still totally alive, sane, and free) bio mom, Nadia. In fact, the final scenes show Beck visiting Captor Dad in prison, proclaiming "You're more of a dad than my biological father will ever be."

Well yeah (maybe probably not), but that's because Gil didn't give him the chance to be a dad, don't you think?



* And let's talk about Bio Dad, Howie Waskello, Naperville cop-turned-vigilante. The dude who, according to Naffziger, supposedly occupies a rung somewhere under "child-snatching recluse." Dude only went on a Roaring Rampage after his daughter vanished, was presumed dead, and then resurfaced on Facebook a decade later. Pre-kidnapping, he seems to be a nice enough dad, doting on his daughter and taking her to the mall for a shopping spree on her birthday. It's only after the trauma that he snaps. And can you blame him?

Granted, I can see why Beck wouldn't be too keen on having a relationship with Bio Dad, given the additional trauma he inflicted on her as part of the "rescue" - but c'mon. This really deserves a more nuanced take than "bio dad bad, captor dad good," don't you think?

* Add to this Becks's ethnicity, and this is where things get especially dicey. She's brown-skinned, as is Nadia. Howie looks a little less so. I read mother and daughter - and possibly father, too (anyone have a read on the surname Waskello?) - as Native American. If so, this book just got a lot grosser, casting a person of color as the Big Bad, even when pitted against the literal white devil who stole his daughter.

Either way, I find it significant that the only other (obvious) character of color - Nadia, whose resemblance to Becks is striking - is relegated to the background, and is only allocated a line or two in passing.

* The characters' connections to one another are totally improbable. Everyone Becks bumps into is related to by two degrees or less, sometimes quite literally. Is Naperville really that small a town?

* This just feels like nitpicking at this point, but the art was not my jam at all.



The only redeeming point is the Beck reference early on. This sounds like an exaggeration, but I can assure you it is not.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2019/06/25/...
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Reading Progress

April 2, 2019 – Started Reading
April 2, 2019 – Shelved
April 2, 2019 – Shelved as: comics
April 2, 2019 – Shelved as: read-in-2019
April 2, 2019 – Finished Reading
April 3, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed

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