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The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded Hardcover – March 22, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—British scientist and mathematician Alan Turing pioneered theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence during the first half of the 20th century. Like many geniuses, he was misunderstood by most of his peers, and he was eventually ostracized because of his sexuality. Regardless, his work was instrumental in ending World War II as well as in revolutionizing computer science. This adaptation uses a pastel palette of watercolors, strong black lines, and dynamic storytelling devices to bring Turing's tale to life. Multiple narratives, including those of Turing, his mother, and several of his colleagues and friends, weave in and out, following Turing from adolescence to the end of his short life. Readers not familiar with the man may be confused by the multiple narrators, who are not clearly identified. Others will enjoy the mystery and putting the puzzle pieces together until a clearer picture of Turing is formed. Teens with math or computer science bent will enjoy this slice of history and will learn about logic and algorithms along the way. Those who are interested in social justice and LBGTQ rights will also be engaged. VERDICT While this graphic novel will appeal to a broad range of readers, the technical language describing Turing's work may dissuade some. An additional, although worthwhile, purchase.—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA
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Yes, there are long(ish) segments where Turing talks through his ideas on logic, but they are written in a natural language that makes a lot more sense to a layman than a logic book. What's funny to me is that the artwork for these streams of consciousness, it often shows Turing moving on ahead while his acquaintances are left behind, having problems keeping up with him. Considering how few people seemed to understand him, it makes sense in the moment and overall.
This is not just a book for mathematicians or logicians. This is a good read for people interested in cryptography, World War II, LGBT history, or even just real life drama. The art style is appropriate for the story and the dialogue is easy to read.
The story was set up like an interview. There was an interviewer asking questions, which were being answered by friends and family of Alan Turing (and I think sometimes Alan's voice made and appearance, too, but I'm honestly still a little confused about that). I don't really see why the interview format was needed. I think the story would have been just as effective if it was told from just one point of view - and it would have been a lot less confusing, too. I thought Alan's story was really interesting, but the confusing shifts in point of view really jarred me and pulled me out of the story.
One thing that really disappointed me about this book was how the LGBTQ aspects of Alan's life were breezed over and felt like they were thrown in at the last minute. Alan Turing was a gay man living in a time when homosexuality was illegal in England. When it was revealed that he was gay during a court case, Alan was forced to undergo hormonal treatments in an attempt to "fix" him. These treatments ravaged his body and destroyed his spirits. He ultimately ended up committing suicide and a brilliant mind was lost. But these tragic points of Alan's story were barely mentioned! There are just a couple pages on his hormonal treatments and then suddenly the book ends and he has committed suicide. The book mostly focused on Alan's contributions to science and WWII, and yes, these are important aspects of his life that should be remembered. But the fact that he was a gay man forced to undergo hormonal treatments which led to his suicide should not be brushed under the rug.
I think this is definitely an interesting read if you are interested in science and the history of World War II. But although the synopsis makes it appear that LGBTQ issues will be addressed, that is not the case. This is more a record of Alan Turing's contributions to cracking the German Enigma code, not a record of Alan Turing's life.