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The Unwritten Vol. 2: Inside Man Paperback – August 17, 2010
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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The second collection of this literary comic continues the tribulations of Tom Taylor, who may be the fantasy-novel character Tommy Taylor (think Harry Potter), written by his father, come to life. The main plot arc has him getting plunked into Stuttgart, 1940, to save Jud Süss, a novel written by a Jewish dissident but twisted by Goebbels into an anti-Semitic propaganda film. This metafictional comic, where literary worlds bleed together, is still more in the business of promising than delivering, but what it promises is getting more tantalizing by the moment. --Ian Chipman
About the Author
Mike Carey got into writing through comic books, where his horror/fantasy series Lucifer for Vertigo/DC Comics garnered numerous international awards and was nominated for five Eisners. From there he moved into novels and screenplays, while still maintaining a presence in the comics world (Vertigo/DC Comics' Hellblazer and Marvel's X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four). His movie Frost Flowers, an erotic ghost story, is currently in production with Hadaly/Bluestar Pictures. He lives in London, England, about as far as you can get from the centre of the city and still have access to the London Underground train network. His wife, Linda, writes fantasy for young readers under the pseudonym A.J. Lake. They have three children and an implausibly beautiful cat.
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Top customer reviews
First, the bad. The two arcs in this volume take place in in France and Germany, and there is a fair amount of untranslated French and German in the panels. It's not enough that you won't still be able to follow the story, but it can be annoying not understanding what people are saying. And, despite the events of the last volume, Tom still remains in denial for a good part of the book about what is happening to him. He definitely gets better by the end though.
Now, the good. The mixing of horror, comedy, and action is all top-notch. The intercuts of the Tommy Taylor series and online news article never cease to impress, and the book delivers one excellent new character who you can't help but relate to. Mike Carey is clearly an extremely talented writer. Oh, and issue 12 is simply fantastic. I don't want to give spoilers, but it's a one-off issue that you will not be able to stop reading.
I found Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (the previous book) to be weird and this one pretty much sticks with that method. It is weird but interesting enough to keep me reading. Once I was into the flow of this book, I enjoyed it. It did take me a few pages (and since this is a pretty skinny book with only about 200 pages, there really isn't more then a few pages that can be spent getting into it), but I turned out really enjoying it. I am once again left with a slew of questions. I learned some answered but there were still a few lingering questions about what was going on with the story or who a character was. Plus, how was that character going to play a part in the larger plot. Typical questions, but I think I experience part of the main characters confusion in why things are happening. Either way, I enjoyed it and liked getting to know some of the other characters better.
It will be interesting to see where this series goes, so far, I think it could be pretty good. Inside Man gets 4 stars for being a great read.
I was recommended this graphic novel by a friend who knew of my penchant for books, and what I really love in books – tongue-in-cheek referencing to other works of art. I like graphic novels if they are done well, and I am currently finishing up one of my favorite forays into the genre, The Sandman series.
The Unwritten is a story about a man who comes from a literary family with an uncertain past. When his father becomes a huge success because of his Harry-Potter-like book series, Tommy finds himself embroiled in the success as he resembles and is a part of the mythos that goes along with the book (as much as he would like to deny it). When a murder is committed and he is the only possible perpetrator, he is on the run from a fan base that is absolutely horrified that he could have betrayed their trust (even though he is a real person and the character is fictional). It is then that the world between reality and magic become blurred, and all of the places where it happens are completely based on consciousness and literary meaning within the construction of a story.
I liked this series, but there is a lot it is trying to do in less pages than I think it takes to be done well. My favorite part is the literary-winks that happen throughout the books that are a direct address to the readers who are knowledgeable about history and authors that the books nod to. From Mary Shelley to Mark Twain to Rudyard Kipling to A.A.Milne to Nazi propagandists, everything in the first two books great a really cool, literary world of danger that blur the lines between fact, fiction, and the purpose of narratives in our lives. It is a lot of fun, and I just wish it was somewhat longer (but I understand the constraints that exist in the one-offs prior to being collected in these omnibus volumes). I really liked the ending of the second volume and the tribute to the “Beatrix Potter” type narrative (without giving much away – but it was awesome).
The thing about graphic novels that stinks is also part of the things that make them great – it is the perfect blend of the literary and the visual, allowing you to take in the art at the same time that you are taking in the narrative, thereby allowing for “whole picture” visualization of the piece that one can study and look at for five minutes and study, but promoting and providing the same wonder and meta-analysis in the text that it presents. Of course, the thing that makes it great is also the thing that makes it difficult for the people like me who want to stretch out what I am doing to the end of time, evidently.
Unwritten was not one of my favorite graphic novels, but I surely think that the execution and in-jokes among readers of great literature that it presents is well worth the price of admission. I do wonder what the piece would have looked like if it pandered to a little more of an intellectual audience and not so much of a more general audience overall, but at the same rate it is enjoyable. I am tempted to read the rest to see more of the intellectual jokes, but I am not sure that the main conflict storyline is something that would particularly engage me for ten volumes. I will probably give it a shot.