Graphic Novels

Octavia E. Butler's Kindred by Damian Duffy and John Jennings

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Kindred, Octavia Butler’s literary science-fiction masterpiece first published in 1979, tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and mysteriously transported from her home in 1970’s California to the antebellum South. Dana moves between worlds: one in which she is a free woman and another where she is part of a complicated familial history on a southern plantation, forced to interact with and save the life of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of her ancestors. Frightening, compelling and richly detailed, Kindred takes an imagined yet unstinting look at our complicated social history. Adapted as a graphic novel by celebrated academics Damian Duffy and John Jennings with the full co-operation of the Butler estate, Kindred explores the violence, sexuality, loss of humanity and twisted relationships engendered by slavery, in a format that introduces the work to a new generation of readers.

Publisher: Abrams Comicarts

Release Date: 10 January, 2017

Welcome to my first review of the year here on WBW, and what a great start it’s off to. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced review copy of this beautiful hardback graphic novel from the publisher Abrams Comicarts. This doesn’t affect my thoughts or review of the graphic novel in any way.

I was blown away by how beautiful this graphic novel was. This was something very different from what I usually read but at the same time appealed to me greatly. Straight away we’re introduced to the main character Dana and her husband Kevin, before quickly being transported away from 1976 to 1815, and the story begins.

The artwork alone, while not my favourite, was beautiful and really well suited to the story. I haven’t read much from the 1800’s so it was really interesting reading a historical piece from that time, that also had you being flung back to ‘present day’ at any minute! I loved the whole “time travel” aspect to the story, although I would have loved an explanation as to why she keeps being sent forward and back through time. While it was appropriate that the people she ran into when she got sent back in time were her ancestors, it still doesn’t explain why she was there and living the life of her ancestors. Was she trying to keep fixed points in time from altering, or was she being made learn a lesson? Possibly both?

This leads me to the negative points. As you all know, I don’t like picking on the negatives in anything, but this time I have a few. The first being, that I don’t like the way it wasn’t explained how she was moving back and forward in time, and was able to bring her husband with her. Also, going back to the point I mentioned above, why her ancestors? Why was she there and what was the reason for her being there. There were a lot of things left unexplained in the graphic novel, and I really don’t like when things aren’t fully explained. Maybe I’m missing a key element here?

Overall it was a great graphic novel and I definitely recommend you check it out. If you’re a fan of time travel and history, you’ll love this. I’m not much of a history buff myself, and even I thoroughly enjoyed the story line, to the point where I might be persuaded to go get myself a copy of the novel that this graphic novel is an adaption of, and read that. Maybe the book will explain a little more?

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