Comics Review : Slaughterhouse-Five: The Graphic Novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Ryan North and Albert Monteys

As a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut, when I saw the adaptation of Slaughterhouse 5, the classic anti-war SF book, into a graphic novel, I was very excited. And this comic delivers, giving a vivid life to the rye cynical humour so typical of Vonnegut. He had this incredible talent to turn the most horrible things into laughing material… and make us think so hard and critically about accepted everyday events and their true meaning. In the current turmoil, dusting off this novel seems like a very good idea. In fact, it seems like the only sane answer to a world spiralling into a web of fear. This is a very political book meant to remind you to keep your eyes open and hopefully to think for yourself.

Slaughterhouse Five, the Children’s crusade, talks about Billy Pilgrim who has come unstuck in time and as a result lives his life in a none chronological way, often reliving his ordeal as a very rare survivor of the Dresden massacre. 

 I hadn’t re-read the novel since I was in my teens and I was shocked at how accurate some of its criticism is to today’s world: especially about the poor left to die without any help (today giving food to homeless people seems to be a crime in America), how no matter how senseless and destructive they are, wars still break out (why???), and overall the people without wealth are never given any agency over their lives. In any case, this adaptation seems topical and well done and gave a new life to the book.

The illustrations have a nice retro feel that carries the reader back to the 1940 all the way to the 1960s. I really liked the comics within a comic of Trout’s work, he is a recurring fictional SF writer in Vonnegut’s work, who has great ideas but bad execution and absolutely no readership except for his heros. I also enjoyed the storyboard look of a movie the hero is looking at, it was an interesting visual presentation. The art really does add to the story, and I thought they pulled off the tralfamadorian alien abstract book very well. The pictures were surprisingly intriguing.

I highly recommend this adaptation. It is a classic for a reason and should be read by all adults. Maybe people would see the absurdity of violence. The book has a lot of humour, but you cannot come out uplifted from a Vonnegut book, because it always feels like we have a lot of work ahead of us if we want a better world.

I want to thank the publisher for giving me an advanced copy and the opportunity to review the book through Netgalley.

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