Monday, August 11, 2014

Thoughts on V for Vendetta

A frightening and powerful tale of the loss of freedom and identity in a chillingly believable totalitarian world, V for Vendetta stands as one of the highest achievements of the comics medium and a defining work for creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

Set in an imagined future England that has given itself over to fascism, this groundbreaking story captures both the suffocating nature of life in an authoritarian police state and the redemptive power of the human spirit which rebels against it. Crafted with sterling clarity and intelligence, V for Vendetta brings an unequaled depth of characterization and verisimilitude to its unflinching account of oppression and resistance.

"Remember, remember the fifth of November..."
V for Vendetta
Moore, Alan & Lloyd, David (1982). [Genre: Dystopia]

V for Vendetta made it onto my Classics Club list for a multitude of reasons. I wanted to try out graphic novels. I loved the film and wanted to read the original. The story speaks to a part of my reading history - I spent most of my last year of high school devouring dystopian fiction, as it was my specialist subject for the English Scholarship exam (part of the NZ school system, where you can choose to sit examinations above the normal high school level, which if passed translate into a monetary scholarship for university). V for Vendetta was on that list, but one that I just didn't get to in time, so has been on the to-read pile ever since.

What did I think? To be honest, I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped too. The story and plotting is fantastic, there's no doubt there. Alan Moore obviously has a flair for developing theme, symbolism and impactful stories. I really enjoyed picking up on all the little threads running through the story, and the impact of the secondary characters upon the whole. In fact I'd go as far as saying it's probably the most masterful use of secondary characters, in which they remain secondary but still impact the story in a truly meaningful way, that I've seen in a long time.

So what didn't work for me? It was the art style. This was my first graphic novel and I won't be judging the whole genre on one turn  - I have a few more on my to-read list that I suspect may be more up my street. But, in this case I found the art detracted from my reading of the story. The dark tones made it hard to pick up on what was happening in the background, and I found the individual characters (particularly the men, but only because the major female characters had different hair colours) very difficult to tell apart as there was overall very little differentiation in how they were drawn.

I can understand why V for Vendetta is a classic story, but I don't think it's one I'll go back to in it's original form.

V for Vendetta counts towards both my Classics Club and 2014 TBR challenge lists.

1 comment:

  1. I had a similar experience with The Watchmen - the story was good, but the art just didn't appeal. I'm glad things have moved on in the graphic novel world since then.