Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bayou (Volume One) by Jeremy Love

I just finished reading Bayou (Volume One) by Jeremy Love. This was my first encounter with a graphic novel, and I am impressed. It's not a book that you will stay awake all night reading. You can read it cover to cover in about an hour. A graphic novel uses artwork to replace most of its words, so there is very little writing. You will spend more time analyzing the artwork to follow the plot than you will spend actually reading the story. With this said, the artwork is very powerful. It conveys many emotions and deals with some of the "not so nice" parts of American history, specifically Southern racism.

Directly from the back of the text:
South of the Mason-Dixon Line lies a strange land of gods and monsters that only Lee Wagstaff is aware of. When a terrifying creature emerges from the swamp and snatches her white playmate, Lee's father is accused of the kidnapping. In order to save her father from neing lynched, Lee must rescue her friend from this fantastic and frightening world, born from centuries of slavery and civil war. Her only guide is the blues-singing swamp monster called Bayou. Together they treck across a hauntingly familiar Southern Neverland, on a journey that will drastically alter both their lives... Bayou (Volume 1) collects the first four chapters of the critically acclaimed webcomic series by Glyph Award nominee Jeremy Love (Chocolate Thunder, Fierce).

Love plays on the phenomenon of a fantasy-like world where Lee, a young African American girl, sets out to save her father by delivering the truth. Her daddy has been accused of a crime that he did not commit. In a "white world" he is destined to be lynched. Lee wants to prove his innocence. The world she ventures into mirrors the world she lives in." I believe that the Kansas City Star sums it best by saying this novel is "Spellbinding...powerful stuff, filled with hope and hate and trust and betrayal." The truth is, our world can be not so pleasant at times. This should not surprise anyone, but may leave younger readers full of questions and mixed emotions.

Lingering Thoughts:
Due to its content, I would recommend this novel to mature young adult readers. The artwork may appeal to a younger reader, but the theme of the story isn't to be taken lightly. Racism has been deeply rooted in the South, and that is not new to us. However, younger readers may be deeply affected by some of the graphics (including lynchings, a child being swallowed by a giant, "violence" in general, etc.). I only recall one instance where profanity was used.

It will leave you hanging, so I encourage you to purchase Volume Two with this book. There will be a Volume Three available in the future.

Click here to read more about the author, Jeremy Love. Click here to buy it!

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