Book Review: DMZ – Volume 1: On the Ground by Brian Wood

DMZ – Volume 1: On the Ground by Brian Wood with Art by Riccardo Burchielli is a graphic novel that asked what if there was a second civil war and the island of Manhattan was the demilitarized zone on which the war was fought. The Art and story are unique as they take a photo journalistic style to telling the story. The story is a stranger in a strangeland approach where the war has been going on for 5 years and an intern with a news agency gets thrown into to be a photojournalist when the star anchor is killed on set down. The story reminded a lot of the Kurt Russell movie Escape from New York as you see landmarks like central park totally changed to fit this new urban environment. The plot is all about raising awareness for the people still living in the demilitarized zone that are casualties of the war. The overall story is good but it feels like a string of vignettes than the story having an overall arc. This was a reread for me I read volume 1-3 in college, the series has now ended at volume 12. I wanted to read this again because I never reviewed it when I read it in the past and I’m really intrigued by the new HBOMAX show DMZ with Rosario Dawson. In this adaptation they flipped genres of the person going in and instead as an intern in over her head she volunteers to go in to rescue her family. DMZ – Volume 1: On the Ground collects issues 1-5 of DMZ of DC / Vertigo comics.

The Plot Summary: The Second Civil War between the United States and the Free States take place in the demilitarized zone that is Manhattan Island. The War has been going on for 5 years and no journalist has covered it so we have been relying on the military for news. Liberty News wants to send a veteran reporter with Matty Roth a new intern that didn’t really know what he was signing up for. When the Helicopter sets down and the military help to secure the area everyone dies except Matty who has most of the equipment and starts providing news. Matty is shocked of how many civilians still live in the area and start telling their story has he tries to survive.

What I Liked: the art is really good, and all the graffiti on top of everything really makes it look like a war zone. The images are sometimes hard to look at I bet they used a real war photos, especially on the injuries and sketched what they saw. The overall idea is really solid I love the premise and it’s location, to see New York get used for urban war fare is really creative. I like the idea of an intern following through with the mission, and them trying to fire him once he’s inside.

What I Disliked: I was never told which states are the free states and which states are The United States. There was not an ending to the the 5 issues just a carry on doing your job, so it really killed any momentum for the book, and it could have easily had an ending with the guy that stole his press jacket and press path, and show Matty where he stands on violence as he catches up to the guy, but that was wasted.

Recommendations: I will recommend this series I have read a couple more books and does no the series has more of a structured plots coming up. This first volume is a good introduction with a weak ending. I wanted to like this book more but glad it get improved down the line. I rated DMZ- Volume 1: On the Ground by Brian Wood and Art by Riccardo Burchielli 3 out of 5 stars. I will continue to keep reading this series.

Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is an apocalyptic tale that focus on the small things like loss and connection instead of bigger thing like how did this happen and how are we going to go back to society we once had. This novel is is masterfully connected through small gestures of flawed characters, theres connections started before the pandemic, durning the pandemic, a year or two after and 15 years after(which is the novel’s present day). The novel jumps around a lot which is sure to frustrate some, but I found the story was still easy to follow. The characters are interesting, you fell like you know them, but they are all still filled with secrets. The story theme is about finding yourself and being honest what you want out of life. I found the writing really similar to The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier which deal with an apocalyptic plague and the connections in purgatory. This book is perfect for a book club or a college discussion, there’s lots of themes and narratives to explore. This book has been on my Radar and my TBR for quite sometime, I wanted to read this because I saw a trailer for an HBOMAX limited series based on this book. Just watching the trailer they changed one scene which was for the better, So I plan to watch it soon as a reward for reading the book.

The Plot Summary: Arthur Leander a famous actor has died on stage playing King Lear, his death is memorable for his celebrity status, also the night of his death is the start of a plague that knocks out 90% of humanity. Kristen in present day 15 years after the plague is in a traveling symphony that performs Shakespeare and music to keep the arts going. Kristen was in Arthur Leander’s last performance of King lear and their connection as small as it was will effect this new society. A graphic novel that’s origins are attached to Arthur tell of a society that has struggles and will go into isolation influences society in a mysterious way. The man that preformed CPR on Arthur as he died has been shaped my this moment and connections. Authur’s ex-wives and son are also a great influence on this new world. It’s a pretty interesting read how these small interactions and exchanges can influence and change society.

What I Liked: The story of how the society of people lived at the Airport those 15 years, I found these chapters the most compelling. I like the prophet but wanted to know more about him the hints weren’t enough, I did like the reveal on who he was and his connection to the Arthur and the the others. I like the connections and the questions it asked the reader about the current society and how the connections changed it. I liked Miranda and Jeevan character’s the best, and the way that they are connected. I liked the really small bits of action, that were fast but tense. I do like the connotations between Shakespeare’s time dealing with the plague and the why are the player doing Shakespeare.

What I Disliked: I did not care for Arthur Leander, I get his character was supposed to be a bit detached to society, but his backstory cold have been a lot richer. I did not like that we never got to know Miranda’s fate since she was left overseas. I wanted Jeevan to meet Kristen this is one thing the series looks to have fixed.

Recommendation: Station Eleven is a good work of modern fiction. I would recommend this as a book club or group read because there is a lot to discuss. Some people have put this book in the science fiction category, which I feel doesn’t reflect it well enough, it’s a book you can get people skeptical of the Science Fiction genre to dip their feet into, but the only science fiction trope are the decay of society both socially and psychically. I rated Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 4 out of 5 stars.