30 Days of Night: A Review

Maybe I just don’t like graphic novels.

When I thinking about writing this post, I almost took a moment and went “full literary.” For those of you who don’t write genre fiction, “full literary” is our term (ok at least its my term) for someone who views the body of work known as ‘literature’ as somehow higher or better than the other genres. (Yes, literature is a genre, no you can’t argue with me on this).

When I downloaded Thirty Days of Night, my first thought was “oh great, a graphic novel. That’s not a real book.” Well that was my inner snob coming out because, yes, graphic novels are books, and just because I’m not a huge fan of them doesn’t mean they’re not valid stories. Now, I think graphic novels have inherent problems that “traditional” fiction doesn’t. [yes, I realize we’ve been telling stories with pictures long before the written word was invented].

When I read 30 Days, I wasn’t really gripped by the tale the same way a work of “traditional fiction” grips you. In fact, I didn’t really have any emotional reaction at all. I just sat there, looked at the pictures, read the dialogue boxes, and eventually it was done. The problem, I think, is that I didn’t feel like I went on a journey with the characters. I was just watching a bunch of stuff happening, like flipping through a bunch of pictures. The reader is robbed of seeing the world through the character’s eyes, robbed of really feeling the emotions and experiencing the thought processes. It’s something that, in fiction, I like to call the window effect. The Window Effect generally afflicts young authors who are just starting to write or who have never had formal training. It’s when the reader has the experience of watching the story unfold through a closed window. Everything is muted, no emotions are communicated on the page, descriptions are generally lacking, and usually the descriptors are limited to sight and maybe sound. I felt that way when reading 30 Days.

Now, that’s not to say that there’s anything particularly wrong with Graphic Novels. I also don’t enjoy silent films, math, romance novels, most horror novels, the Transformers Movies, and anti-gun lobbyists, as well as a plethora of other things. The artwork in 30 Days of night was really good. It was surreal and, although at a few points a little difficult to discern, it was overall really, really good. The dialogue in the boxes flowed well also, though there were a few cheesy lines scattered throughout–but again, that brings me back to my initial point. Maybe I wouldn’t have thought those lines were cheesy if there were in a full-length novel.

So, in short, I don’t really feel adequate to give a “grade” to this book. It’s the second graphic novel that I’ve ever picked up. If you’re looking to get into graphic novels, I guess it’s as good a place as any. In short, I found myself enjoying it, once the story started going. I certainly wouldn’t re-read it, but it really takes a special book to make me go back to it. Finally, if you like horror and like graphic novels, you’ll probably like this. The actual situation posed by the book was pretty original, and the plot took some pretty cool twists and turns. If I”m being objective, I’d give it a B+.

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3 thoughts on “30 Days of Night: A Review

  1. I’ve read some amazing graphic novels, but this one just did not fall into those categories. There were some interesting things, but the dialogue was so flat that it didn’t really carry the story. In an undergrad class we read Maus and it was a hell of a graphic novel with a gripping, very real story about the Holocaust. So I expect all graphic novels to be on that level of intensity and this one just did not get there.

  2. Like you, I have’t had too much experience with graphic novels. But when I do pick one up it’s from a friend or friends that I trust. This one isn’t the best one to pick up in you’re getting into the genre. I’d recommend: Bone (it’s been 14 years since I read it so it might suck now), Killing Joke, or Blankets. Each of those at least connected with me emotionally. Reading 30 Days is like watching mediocre horror flick, there is much better stuff out there.

  3. “(Yes, literature is a genre, no you can’t argue with me on this).”

    I am going to have a T-shirt made JUST FOR YOU, Jacob, that says, “Rothfuss said, I believe it, that settles it…. And if you push it again, I’m going to break out my copper sword!”

    I have much the same problem as you with most graphic novels in that the images can get in the way of the story.When executed well, the images add depth to the words. That didn’t happen here.

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