Monday, May 18, 2009

Book #3: Watchmen

Wow. This was a remarkable book. As a general rule, I'm not into graphic novels, but once I got into Watchmen, I was both engrossed and thoroughly impressed. In the end, that's not surprising-- give me a good storyline, interesting characters, and an unexpected ending, and I'm hooked. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons provide all three in Watchmen, and more. Deeply complex and philosophical, by turns nihilistic and hopeful, this pretty much covers the gamut of human perspectives on the world.

Nothing creates a stand-out book more than a stand-out ending, and what Moore and Gibbons did in Watchmen was fascinating. Not going to give anything away, but I will say that though they left us with more questions than answers, they also didn't leave us unsatisfied. You have to keep asking things, though, and I expect I will be thinking about this book for a while to come (another mark of a good novel). You keep asking things like:
  • Is the villain the hero? Are the heroes villains?
  • What is the nature of humanity: depraved, evil, and senseless? Worthless and purposeless? Unique and valuable?
  • Do we need someone to force peace and a chance to start over?
  • Did the "heroes" make the right choice, in the end?
At the same time as all these questions keep arising-- both in the mind of the reader and in the minds of the characters-- the strange sense of hope kept arising, maybe from the now-famous and ever-present bloody smiley face...which somehow only serves to confuse, inasmuch as it was somewhat reassuring not to close the book feeling depressed. Bottom line: Watchmen deserves its reputation as one of the best books of recent years, and deserves the recommendation that I received from friends-- that if you never read another graphic novel in your life, read this one.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Who watches the watchmen?

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