Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Synopsis from publisher:
It all begins with the paranoid delusions of a half-insane hero called Rorschach. But is Rorschach really insane or has he in fact uncovered a plot to murder super-heroes and, even worse, millions of innocent civilians? On the run from the law, Rorschach reunites with his former teammates in a desperate attempt to save the world and their lives, but what they uncover will shock them to their very core and change the face of the planet! Following two generations of masked superheroes from the close of World War II to the icy shadow of the Cold War comes this groundbreaking comic story — the story of The Watchmen.
Well. There is almost too much to say about this bleak, beautiful piece of fiction. I think I'm going to arrange my thoughts in list form, to try not to forget anything.
1 - The Story. One of the most famous graphic novels of all time, on numerous "Best Of" lists, the story of the Watchmen is a modern classic. I completely understand why it was so groundbreaking when it was first introduced in the 1980s - these are not the movie superheroes America was used to up until then. These heroes are flawed - greedy, malicious, vain, superheroes for kicks and for hire. It's the characters that make the story so compelling, the structure of the novel allows each to have his or her moment to tell their tale. The plot itself is dense and packed with deep moral and political questions, but I found the characters to be the best part of the novel.
2 - The Writing. There is a perception that graphic novels, or "comics", are somehow not for serious readers - they're light, less challenging, than "real" novels. Or at least that's the impression I had before I started reading them. Watchmen blows this theory out of the water. Each character's voice is so incredible distinct, and the writing is intense, precise, and in many places beautiful. I often found myself so caught up in the words on the page that I realized I hadn't looked at the pictures for some time - so I would backtrack, put the two together, and find even more layers to the story.
3 - The Graphics. I don't know that I would call the pictures beautiful - they seemed very traditionally "comic-y" to me, which isn't a style I'm necessarily drawn to. But they had such detail, and depth of meaning, that I quickly learned to appreciate the complexity they added to the story. Watchmen so completely integrates its words and pictures - I don't think it would be half as great an experience if it lacked one of its components.
4 - The Ending. I won't spoil it for you, but it's pretty love-it-or-hate-it. My husband thought the entire novel was great, until the ending, which he hated. I actually thought it was just the right ending for the story - and I can't say more than that, but I didn't share his dislike at all.
This is definitely a story for adults - I would not give this to kids thinking it's just another comic, as it has seriously adult themes and language. However, I can certainly understand why it garnered all the praise it has received, and it is a reading experience I will surely savor again, as it is the kind of work that will only grow richer with subsequent readings.
Source: my shelves
Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:
Fyrefly's Book Blog
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Ready When You Are, CB
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