Saturday, January 16, 2016

Renée by Ludovic Debeurme

Rating: WARTY!

This was one of those advance review copies Net Galley offers as a 'read now', evidently because it isn't getting much attention. Unfortunately most of those are not very good, which is why they get little attention, but once in a while you can find one that is a worthy read. This wasn't one of them, I'm sorry to report. On the contrary, it was one of the most flaccid graphic novels I've read in a long time. it was disordered and confusing, offered little content, was wasteful of trees if it ever went to a long print run, which I don't forgive easily, and equally as bad, did not even tell a very engaging story. On top of that, the art work was average to poor, and the themes employed were tediously repetitive. The lettering was ridiculously small, too, for that matter, and for no good reason.

The story is one of relationships, which I tend to find boring unless the author really has something original to say, or something old to relate in a new way, but this story offered neither. Worse, it was told non-linearly, which is usually just annoying. Once in a rare while there's a valid reason to employ this technique (although off-hand I can't think of a story I've read which was actually better for it!), but most of the time author do this, it's because they have a poor story to tell, or they're simply being pretentious.

I read some 370 pages out of some 460, and I still didn't feel like I had a good handle on what was supposed to be going on here. I was ready to quit quite early, but I kept pushing on for two reasons. The first was that I was hoping this would lead somewhere interesting. It never did. The fact that I had decided early on that this probably wasn't going to do it for me, and plowed on for scores more pages with no change in my outlook, proves my case to my complete satisfaction.

The second reason is that sometimes when I quit a novel early because it's bad, and I review it negatively, there are those who whine that it's not possible to review a novel fairly unless you finish it. I'm so sorry but you people are completely wrong. I invite you to look up 'sunk cost fallacy' in wikipedia.

The short answer is that it doesn't matter how beautiful your back yard is if if you can't get people to stomach passing through your front door to come see it. Life is far too short to waste on uninteresting stories when there are scores out there that promise more and that we will never get to read if we waste our lives on those which do not thrill us from the off. The same applies to relationships, BTW, but if you fail to persuade your reader to keep reading, then that's a review right there - a resoundingly negative one.

The essence of this story is that there's this one guy, who was, to me, thoroughly unlikable, who was in prison, and one girl was supposedly waiting for him. This girl had no life whatsoever, which is why I didn't like her either. The tow did probably deserve each other, but that doesn't mean there was any sort of romance here, neither in the old-fashioned sense or the modern sense. The two had met through music, and he had started an affair with her even though he was married. This did not endear me to either of them

It turned particularly nauseating as she became predictably demanding that he leave his wife, and he was predictably reluctant to do so, and when he did, she was still not happy. it was all downhill all the way. The artwork was as lackluster as the story, and both dragged on and on going nowhere. It was the polar opposite of cinéma vérité: cinéma mensonge and not even amusing for that.

I can't recommend this as a worthy read. It wasn't.