BOOK IN REVIEW: Monsters! & Other Stories by Gustavo Duarte

11:27 PM

Received an arc in exchange for an honest review

Title: Monsters! & Other Stories
Artist: Gustavo Duarte
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Publishing Date: January 28, 2014
Paperback: 152 pages
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the first comic or graphic novel I've read this year (and in a long time). I love art and illustrations but for some reason, the last I've read are Archie comics, WITCH comics and the occasional manga (they weren't actually occasional they were pretty frequent). I don't really know what got into me that I stopped reading comic books or was never into them in the first place. I've always planned on reading Marvel comics or DC comics but I didn't know where to get them so it never happeend. I guess what I'm saying is I am not that kind of geek.

But I wanted to widen my horizons and decided to start reading more graphic novels this year. When I received an arc of Monsters & Other Stories, I thought why not? And it is definitely the perfect graphic novel for everyone who wants to get into comics.

Just a little anecdote before I begin with my review. I once had a film professor, who is one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the country, before who told me that we shouldn't make films that had no sound - in other words, he was saying that the silence can be awkward. He said that dead air can be quite deafening and that it is a big no-no in filmmaking. They were great words of advice, but I guess what he told us only applied to film.

Because sometimes the silence is not defeaning, but actually very comforting.
Reading Monsters & Other Stories was like that - like watching an animated silent film. It had no dialogue so you had to make sense of all the illustrations - which were all very graphic and full of detail. But in this case, the lack of dialogue was what pushed the plot and made it all the more an enjoyable read. It wasn't awkward to not have the characters talk or have a dialogue bubble following them around. It was strangely liberating, as we as the readers are for the first time given the creative freedom to make sense of the story in our own ways. I myself do admit that I prefer words over pictures any day, but this one made me appreciate the silence and the independent license to interpret the tale into whatever way you want.

The stories were also very brilliant, eccentric yet brilliant. The first had elements of aliens and pigs, the second had the Reaper and some chickens and the third involved giant monsters attacking the city with an unlikely hero saving the day. My favorite would have to be the first one, it was so morbidly funny I tried to imagine it being colored, and then dismissed the idea when I started imagining seeing the blood and all those gore. That would just be too much.

Monsters & Other Stories was altogether a very enjoyable read. It did not feel like just looking at flat 2 dimensional pictures - instead the story and the characters all sprang to life and I was seeing them all dancing in my head as if they were all real. On the first level I was just reading the book and scrolling through the pictures, but in a deeper level I was experiencing the book and felt like I was a part of it - observing the story in front of me. The drawings were so imaginative but also vivid and real at the same time. The stories were all so wonderful, they made you think and ponder over what happened, encouraging the readers to think outside the box, and that sometimes you overlook things by not looking at the bigger picture. This is the kind of book that will make you think - it borders satire yet still can be passed as an innocent cartoon.

I would recommend this book to open minded readers who can make sense of alien pigs, chicken in suits and giant monsters. Of course, I am talking about children.

But if you still have the childlike wonder and awe inside you, then this book is also for you.

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  1. This honestly sounds utterly original, and I love the idea of such great illustrations bringing the story to life! Great review :)


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Kimi has read 3 books toward her goal of 100 books.