At some point this past summer I began spending much of my free time reading book review blogs. Part of the motivation was to discover new books, although I apparently wasn’t having any trouble with this, at least according to my ballooning Goodreads books-to-read list. But the other part was to explore the world of book review blogging and to see how I might fit into this world. I’m not sure which blog tipped me off to the existence of NetGalley, but I was excited to discover that the site proved advance digital copies of books, based on publisher’s discretion about which books to share with which readers. I immediately signed up and hunted for books to get a sneak peek at. The very first book I discovered was The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship that Sank Twice, a graphic novel that acts as a prequel and origin story to the popular Unwritten series. And now that Unwritten has officially published, I can finally share my thoughts.
This is not the first graphic novel I have read, and I hoping it won’t be the last. Unwritten was a beautifully rendered world with a heart-wrenching story and classic tropes: orphaned boy with a heroic future, brave and loyal sidekicks, wise teacher and undead villain. But that’s okay. Carey manages to both highlight and dismiss any arguments you might have against his reliance on these stereotypical details. Instead, he frames the novel with the story of an author and the novel he was creating, adding just enough tongue-in-cheek references to amuse readers – especially those who are also writers.
The Unwritten series is a popular comic series about a fictional boy wizard named Tommy Taylor and Tom Taylor, the real-life boy on whom the author (Tom’s father) based his character. Conflicts abound as Tom copes with his stardom and the fact that he might be more than what he seems. In this particular novel, the origins of Tom and Tommy are explained. And they are illustrated in a delightfully dream style. The illustrations alone make the novel worth reading, but the story is actually gripping, despite it’s reliance on predictable characters.
Bottom line: This is another great example of young adult fiction being a worthwhile genre for adults to explore. And if you’ve never read a graphic novel, maybe it’s time you set aside your preconceived notions of them. If you find yourself enjoying the genre, I also recommend Stitches, a memoir/graphic novel by David Smalls.Thanks to NetGalley and DC Emtertainment for the preview read.