From Publishers Weekly
Novelist and visual artist Niffenegger brings the dark dreaminess that characterized her bestselling novels to her first full-length graphic novel. After a fight with her boyfriend one night, Alexandra goes for a walk and comes upon a bookmobile. When she goes inside to look at the books, she discovers that it's a library of her own reading history; every book she's ever read, including her diary, is on the shelf. As her life continues, she searches for the bookmobile, but years go by before she finds it again. Meanwhile she becomes a librarian and a loner, eventually deciding that she wants to work in the bookmobile, though the price for doing so is high. Niffenegger's full-color art has a naïve tone, with sometimes stiff figures, and text written in childlike script. The simplicity of the images contrasts with sophisticated page layouts in which she plays with panels and perspective. The story was originally serialized in the Guardian, and in an afterword, Niffenegger reveals that the book is the first volume in a larger project. At heart this romantic, melancholy tale is a paean to reading and to the life one person lives through books.
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*Starred Review* Niffenegger’s love for and wariness about libraries is threaded through her best-selling first novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), and blossoms poisonously in her first graphic novella. An artist given to elegantly eerie and clever drawings, as seen in her two illustrated novels, Niffenegger makes supple use of the graphic format in this pensive and unnerving story. Alexandra is out walking late one night on a quiet Chicago street after a fight with her boyfriend when she happens upon an old Winnebago that turns out to be a magical mystery bookmobile open between “dusk and dawn,” and piloted by Robert, a gentleman librarian who serves tea. Even more strangely, its collection comprises every book Alexandra has ever read. She is galvanized. She looks for the bookmobile every night and longs to work with Robert. Years go by. Alexandra reads incessantly and becomes a librarian. Yet still she is refused a place on the bookmobile, until one especially grim night. With beautifully complex perspectives, lustrous and moody colors, and refined expressiveness, Niffenegger has created a haunting cautionary tale about solitude, obsession, and the unfathomable power of books. Originally serialized in the Guardian in England, this is the first provocative volume in a larger work titled The Library. While the book is best suited for adult collections, teens who like classy and psychologically subtle spooky tales will shiver happily over this gorgeous short story as well. --Donna Seaman