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V for Vendetta Paperback – October 24, 2008
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V for Vendetta is, like its author's later Watchmen, a landmark in comic-book writing. Alan Moore has led the field in intelligent, politically astute (if slightly paranoid), complex adult comic-book writing since the early 1980s. He began V back in 1981 and it constituted one of his first attempts (along with the criminally neglected but equally superb Miracleman) at writing an ongoing series. It is 1998 (which was the future back then!) and a Fascist government has taken over the U.K. The only blot on its particular landscape is a lone terrorist who is systematically killing all the government personnel associated with a now destroyed secret concentration camp. Codename V is out for vengeance ... and an awful lot more. V feels slightly dated like all past premonitions do. The original series was black and white and that added to the grittiness of the feel while the coloring here in the graphic novel sometimes blurs David Lloyd's fine drawing. But these are small concerns. Skillfully plotted, V is an essential read for all those who love comics and the freedom, as a medium, they allow a writer as skilled as Moore. --Mark Thwaite --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–The date is November 5th, 1997. War has ravaged England, entire races have been eradicated, the entire British populace is under constant surveillance, and the absolute power is absolutely corrupt. On this historic day, a man with a strong resemblance to Guy Fawkes (in action and dress) blows up Parliament. The bomber, a masked character named V, saves a girl named Eve from a violent crime and takes her under his wing. Moore's dystopian, fascist version of England, ruled by one central leader and his sects (named after parts of the body, such as Finger, Nose, and Voice), is systematically dismantled by the enigmatic V. Readers must ultimately decide if V is a mad anarchist/terrorist or a freedom-fighting avenger for good. Originally published in 1989, V has been reissued as a hardcover book with never-seen-before sketches and two new vignettes. This story is slated to be released as a major motion picture in 2006, and demand should intensify as the movie trailers come out. Combining alternate history with moral questions about freedom and identity, this book would work well in a school setting; and while there is some slight nudity and violence, they fit well within the framework of the story.–Jennifer Feigelman, Plattekill Public Library, Modena, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Now, I've never seen the movie and I knew little about this storyline before I read it other than its set in an alternate timeline in a dystopian Britain. This is a post nuclear war world in the late 1990s some 13 years after the war. Britain was spared but in the chaos after the war was taken over by a fascist group. All the non-whites, liberals, homosexuals, communists and other usual suspects were rounded up, sent to concentration camps and killed. Now this is a repressive, homogeneous world controlled by a strong central government.
The book opens on Guy Fawkes Night with our main character and anti-hero saving a girl from being raped by government goons and also blowing up Westminster Abbey. The book revolves around the fascist government trying to capture ‘V’, our protagonist and anarchist, and the struggle between the two extreme philosophies as they’re applied to society at large.
The story line is dark and pulls no punches.
V is a madman and genius and has a vision of the people living free; living as they will vs. living in a world completely controlled by a corrupt and rigid government. Within the context of the story, there is little room for any other way between these two extremes.
The book ends with a very strong ending but with no clear resolution; there is no happily ever after. There is just the next stage. I like that it ended in a place without tying everything up in a neat bow and I like that there weren't further comics written in this series to extend it. I’m not sure that if I read this piece by piece, as separate comics, if I would have enjoyed it as much while I waited to find out the next and the next and the next parts until is just ended. But, that’s one of the things I like about the graphic novel format where an entire series of a significant chunk is anthologized to create a fuller novel.
As put together, I think this is brilliant.
To start, I thought I would hate the art work, but after reading the first chapter, I began to appreciate the design of it. It gives the story such a unique vibe that you feel throughout the story. In terms of characters, V stands out from all the rest. He's just awesome. The way V and Evey interact is fantastic because they have such great chemistry together. I also love that the story's "hero" is kind of a villain. But the government is the villain. See what I mean? No one is TRULY good nor evil. People will do bad things for good reasons or good things for bad reasons, just like people do in the REAL world. It's believable, just like Watchmen.
It's not as action-packed as I though, which really isn't the worst of things, but I just felt like V was slightly under utilized when it came down to action sequences. I also didn't really like the the way certain British/Scottish slang was written because I would try to make out the word, but oh boy it's hard at points. There's also a lot of subplots that I don't really believe are all too necessary to tell the story, so it becomes very confusing when you have to read something completely unrelated that tries to make itself cannon by the end of the chapter (or book).
It's not my favorite Alan Moore story, but it's still a pretty good story. I'd say give it a chance because even if you don't like it, there's still a lot of great questions the story raises about the role of government in the world and who are truly the GOOD guys or gals.
My few problems with the book is the quality or style of the art work. I found it sometimes hard to read to image. It lacks clarity and I couldn't always distinguish between characters.
I also found that it was always clear which character was talking.
But, it is very possible that the aforementioned flaws come from the Kindle format. The pages might be clearer in the paper version which may be bigger than the digital. That is the reason why I still gave the book 5 stars. It is a great great story, very skillfully narrated.
The premise - that governments ought to be responsive to the people (and governments who refuse to do so do this at their own risk) is particularly relevant in today's political climate, the resonance of the message is part of its timelessness. However, the details of the story are a bit dated: the Cold War is long over, the threat of a nuclear war between superpowers past.
There is a reason why the book remains so popular - and for this reason it warrants an enthusiastic recommendation.