Trillium by Jeff Lemire

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Trillium by Jeff Lemire

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: With a complicated weaving of multiple story strands this book can be an eye-raiser at times, but the whole result is an eye-opener to a very, very good storyteller.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: August 2014
Publisher: DC Comics
ISBN: 9781401249007

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It's the future of at least a thousand years hence, and humanity is in trouble. The species has spread itself thinly out in the galaxy, but is under threat from a sentient virus, which is beating all efforts – military, scientific – to best it. The nearest thing to hope is in the unlikely form of a jungle flower, found only in realms sacred to the natives of one of humankind's planets. Elsewhere and elsewhen a shell-shocked WWI veteran is taken with his brother to South America, to gain the secrets and glories of the remotest Incan temples. It therefore sounds entirely unlikely that the main alien life scientist in the future and the earlier explorer will meet, but meet they do – and then things start to get weirder and weirder…

The USP of this graphic novel is the brilliant way these stories not so much as act in parallel but definitely dovetail with each other. As eight comics they would have been perhaps more clearly delineated, but in the collection they now form we get flashbacks, combinations, transferences and a lot more, so much so that at times we are encountering pretty much the exploration of the unusual as are the book's main characters. Without giving anything away, the midway point certainly has one of the larger and more unusual jarring twists I can remember.

Graphic novels are certainly one of the best formats in which to tell such twisting, twisted stories. I can't say I was a complete admirer of the artistry – I prefer a slightly cleaner line, whereas this book goes for a scratchier, very handmade feel, even in the future scenes. But then again, when the stories come together, meet up then part their ways anew, the design of the book is imperious. There's the whole way the 20th century science of discovery combines with the end-of-the-world elements of the future that is distinctly graphic – and the whole story can prove itself to be something entirely different by the end.

This is a book that does not suck up to the reader with an easy ride – we're definitely in the dark as to a lot of what has gone on. It's the richness of what we have to explore – with all the various links and connections across the length of the piece to put together – that makes the work so appealing. If anything it does smack a little too much of the Aronovsky effort The Fountain which was of course principally a film but did have an accompanying graphic novel concerning some vaguely similar ideas and processes. The difference here is that one cannot foresee a film version being such a generally-derided flop – were it to be made it would be testimony to the intelligent and brilliantly crafted warp and weft of story that makes up this book.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

For another graphic tale of duality, you probably would enjoy Revolver by Matt Kindt.

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