Snowpiercer Vol.2 - The Explorers by Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette
|Snowpiercer Vol.2 - The Explorers by Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A very different, but equally clever, sequel to the dystopian train journey of the first graphic novel. Book two actually completes a trilogy, and in fine style.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 144||Date: February 2014|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
All of humankind is living on a single train. Oh sorry, as this is the sequel, make that two trains. Launched on the same tracks as the original Snowpiercer, but clearly at a slight remove, was a second mile-long behemoth of a train, designed with the latest high tech to be completely self-sustaining as it travelled ceaselessly on the tracks encircling a frozen Earth, waiting for the time the world was inhabitable once more. But the high tech on board, complete with lemon farms, and differing qualities of virtual holidays depending on cost and class of customer, has not put paid to one aspect of society – and in fact the sole aspect of society not featured in the first book – religion. Some people are fearing the end time, when the Icebreaker crashes into the original Snowpiercer. Some believe they're duped into the whole train idea, and are in fact on a spacecraft. Some people know something else – the rare few explorers who get to go outside the train into the world beyond, and see glimpses of what came before…
This larger volume completes the much-sought-after trilogy of Snowpiercer stories. It is still galling that the first book took thirty years to be given an English translation, and while these two sequels came at the midway point of the time since then, it is clear a lot has changed. The author, for one, and the style of the artist. Gone is the handy, newspaper-friendly inked panels of the slightly episodic, slightly padded-out original, here is a more mature, more assured, painted style. It still manages to be acceptable whatever the circumstances – the intimate detail; the inhuman, more Big Brother-styled train; or the wider world, equally inhuman in the snow.
That change is almost matched by the author, due to the passing of Jacques Lob after volume one. I'm sure he would more than approve, however, for the depth of the two-part sequel is quite profound. The artwork differentiates the personnel more than in the original, although the characters are stronger and more clearly defined, and in a way the plot is such that you don't really have to be on a super-duper train. While the first book took that idea as a metaphor for an insular, closed society, this volume takes all its characters and sets them on the hob. And like the frogs in the urban myth, they might jump out if you put them in a pan of boiling water, but put them in cool water (frozen-Earth temperature, perhaps) and turn up the heat, and they'll stay where they are til they scald. This is a very dramatic volume, all told.
So this sequel is immediately essential to anyone who liked the original, and perhaps more. The combination of two lengthy one-shots completes the cycle in a very unexpected manner, even if by the end we're expecting a bleak ending. I'm left very satisfied by this brace of books, and if it's the case that the cost of translation and re-lettering of foreign comix is what is keeping them off our shelves, then dammit I want many people to buy these in order to fund more lost treasures. As for the film that has finally inspired the English version of these books, I'm not sure. My senses are alerted to the fact that they've buggered about with it, purely because the headline cast is on the backs of these books and I don't know what the heck Tilda Swinton, bless her, is doing there. At the least she's changed gender. Again. I can only hope the film makers have some of the sensibilities of the creators of these books, and like the authors and artist behind them know precisely what they're doing. These stories are more or less lost classics, and deserve respect, as well as your attention.
I must thank the publisher for my review copy.
Feel free to browse through our Newest Dystopian Fiction Reviews for instances of other dark and dreary worlds fit only for fictional heroes.
You can read more book reviews or buy Snowpiercer Vol.2 - The Explorers by Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Snowpiercer Vol.2 - The Explorers by Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette at Amazon.com.
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