Friday, September 02, 2011

Booknote: The Surrogates, 12 Books, 12 Months Challenge, Book 12

With The Surrogates, I come to the end of the 12 Books, 12 Months Challenge. I did cut it close there at the end. I will admit that was part of the reason I put in a couple of graphic novels into the list. I can read those a bit faster, so I could move along the list a bit quicker as needed. By finishing today (actually, I finished the book last night, but I did not get to write the review until today), I managed to get the challenge done before the September 5 deadline. I will say this was a bit challenging because I tend to read a lot by serendipity. There were moments when I just did not really feel like reading a book on the list when I had other things I was more interested in. The challenge did give me the chance to read some books that had been sitting on my shelves for a while, and that is a good thing. I also got to read a pretty eclectic selection, and that is also a good thing. Now that the challenge is done, I am moving along with other books. My three readers may want to tune back in at the end of this year or early part of next year where I will post my annual reading list and reading reflection.

Here is the review of the book as I posted it on my GoodReads profile:

The SurrogatesThe Surrogates by Robert Venditti

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Only thing I will say upfront not so positive is that I had a bit of mixed feelings at the end, which I will not reveal because I think this book deserves to be read. And to be honest, an ending that does make you think a bit is a good thing. It certainly is something you do not get often when you think of graphic novels and comics. So, that out of the way, let's look at the rest of the book.

The book is a nice blend of a police procedural/mystery and science fiction. In a world where humans now have the option to live their lives via mechanical surrogates, people do not have to leave their homes and worry about anything. But they can still go to work, so on. The authors did excellent work thinking about the implications of such a society, and they really do an excellent work bringing it to life. In this world, there is a terrorist that destroys surrogates in a quest to make the world go back to living a real life. The protagonist is the detective tasked with stopping him. Among the suspects is a cult leader who leads a faction that sees surrogates as aberrations. This all has the makings of a very good story, and the authors do deliver on that front.

The art is not too realistic, but the style matches the gritty, kind of noir setting the authors wish to evoke. It does feel right in relation to the story. In addition, the book has textual materials (news articles, a brochure for surrogates, so on) that add to the authenticity of the story. I will warn that if you are more of a visual reader, taking the time to read some of these extras found at the end of each chapter can slow your reading pace a bit. But I think readers will find some of the materials interesting. Additionally, this particular edition has a series of extras after the story: a deleted scene, author commentary, so on. If you like knowing how a comic is crafted, you may enjoy reading through this part.

This is the comic series that gave basis to the recent The Surrogates film. I have not seen it, but knowing Hollywood, I have a feeling they probably mucked it up. But being curious, I will likely watch it if I get a chance. Overall, this is one of the best graphic novels I have read so far this year. It has a good story, depth, good art, and good science fiction.

View all my reviews

Update Note (9/4/11): Mark Lindner, who was also doing the challenge, has posted his tally and reflection on his challenge. Note he did read quite a challenging list. I went a bit easy on my self by adding the graphic novels. And hey, a list with Borges in it is definitely a plus for me. Go on and have a look.  

Update Note (10/2/11): Latter Day Bohemian has posted the final roundup for the challenge. Have a look. 

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