I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Above the Dreamless Dead by Various Authors
Published by First Second on 2014-07-15
Genres: Anthologies, Comics & Graphic Novels, Literary, Nonfiction
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As the Great War dragged on and its catastrophic death toll mounted, a new artistic movement found its feet in the United Kingdom. The Trench Poets, as they came to be called, were soldier-poets dispatching their verse from the front lines. Known for its rejection of war as a romantic or noble enterprise, and its plainspoken condemnation of the senseless bloodshed of war, Trench Poetry soon became one of the most significant literary moments of its decade. The marriage of poetry and comics is a deeply fruitful combination, as evidenced by this collection. In stark black and white, the words of the Trench Poets find dramatic expression and reinterpretation through the minds and pens of some of the greatest cartoonists working today. With New York Times bestselling editor Chris Duffy (Nursery Rhyme Comics, Fairy Tale Comics) at the helm, Above the Dreamless Dead is a moving and illuminating tribute to those who fought and died in World War I. Twenty poems are interpreted in comics form by twenty of today's leading cartoonists, including Eddie Campbell, Kevin Huizenga, George Pratt, and many others.
Why Did I Read This Book?
One thing that is my reading kryptonite is non-fictional historical graphic novels. I love them and cannot ever resist them when they come across my TBR. Recently, I tore my way through The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks, a book about African-American soldiers in World War I. I really loved that book, so when I had the opportunity to review Above The Dreamless Dead:World War I In Poetry And Comics edited by Chris Duffy, thanks to Netgalley auto approval, I immediately downloaded and began the process of reading the book on my computer with Adobe Digital Editions. Let me tell you, reading an entire book via ADE takes dedication and desire to read the book. I won’t just finish any book with that awful program. Thankfully, Above The Dreamless Dead is one of those books that is worth reading no matter the format, although I think that the physical copy is worth reading for the tactile experience.
What’s The Story Here?
Above The Dreamless Dead is another one of those books where the title tells you exactly what you are going to get. It does not follow a linear story. However, the book is divided into three sections. The first section is about the call to war, so about people joining up and training. The second section is about actual war, and the trench warfare. The last section is about the aftermath of the war. Duffy’s edited book examines the horrors of war from various angles and does it in such a creative and moving way. This is, overall, the story of warfare from beginning to end, even if it is told in a non-traditional sense.
How’s The Artwork?
There are several different artists who contribute to Above The Dreamless Dead. Because I am horrible, I don’t actually remember all their names, nor do I feel like looking them. What I will say about the artwork is that I like how each artist brings a distinctive style to the book. I loved how some of the artists took on the words from the poets that they were drawing for quite literally and how some looked at their words and drew them out in a figurative sense. There are sections where the artwork and graphics are really moving, and others where it’s absurd, but on purpose. I loved how the art was so different for each artist, that I never got bored and fatigued of a certain style and just kept on flipping the pages. I think the choice to have the poems all represented by different comic illustrators (I don’t even know the correct term here) was a good one to make, because the poems are all unique and individual. It’s good that they were represented in a distinct way.
Did I Take Any Meaning Out Of This?
Absolutely! Above The Dreamless Dead does a great job reinforcing the horrors of war. It is a brief book, to be sure, but it packs a lot of impact in it’s sparse pages. It is true that a picture can say a thousand words, and it absolutely does with this book. It’s interesting too because there’s a section in the after the war part, where they talk about never having war again because this is the war to end all wars, but you see the big people in charge preparing for war again. It’s just upsetting and moving and I really was blown away by that little section and how disturbed it made me feel. In a good way. This book really made me think about World War I and how it was just senseless and how, even still, I have trouble making sense of why. This is a book that will definitely inspire more reading on the subject for me.
Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
- History buffs
- Military history fans
- People who are dipping their toes in the graphic novel genre — this book has a wide sampling of artists
Sum It Up With A GIF:
All I could think of was Downton Abbey and the trenches, and this GIF popped up and thus, am using it because you’ll need some tea to calm your nerves while reading this book.