Friday, February 3, 2012

The Girl Who Owned a City (The Graphic Novel)


The Girl Who Owned a City by O T Nelson was originally published in 1975.  It is being adapted for a 21st century audience as a graphic novel by Dan Jolley and artists Joëlle Jones and Jenn Manley Lee.  When this graphic novel begins, Lisa Nelson is foraging for food in an abandoned home.  She and her younger brother Todd live in a dystopian reality where everyone over the age of approximately twelve has died.  Lisa and Todd are not alone, however.  Within the first few pages we see other children who are struggling to survive and Todd is worried that the Chidester Gang will return.  Lisa’s resourcefulness not only allows her to keep her and her brother from desperate starvation but inevitably results her being seen as a leader with the other children who live nearby, who come to her because she has food and supplies they need, and who allow her to show them what they are capable of doing for themselves.

The timing is perfect for this revisionary approach to a novel that somehow missed my radar when I was a teenager.  (Seriously, how did I never hear of this novel?)  The audience is out there, as The Hunger Games has clearly proven.  If this future vision is not as bleak as more contemporary young adult dystopian novels, it nevertheless hints at possible darkness and the novel lends itself to future volumes.  Nelson did not write a sequel but if this graphic novel is successful enough, no doubt the publisher will encourage the writer and artists to continue Lisa’s story.

Thankfully, this one volume does not end on a cliff-hanger.  Which begs the question:  Would I want to read more about Lisa and the rest?  Yes.  While I found this first book a fairly quick read, I also found it compelling.  I kept reading “just one more page.”  Visually, I think the washed out colors are an excellent choice, suggesting the worn-out quality that clothes would have after several washings and even the dulled down shade of dust and dirt.  I’d want to know what happens next, especially if the possibility that the virus that killed everyone is still out there and likely to infect these children as they mature.  The groundwork for more story is clearly there and it is probably only a matter of seeing how well this first volume sells that will determine whether more of the story is coming.

I had the pleasure of reading this as an ARC and is scheduled for publication April 2012.  It is available for pre-order on amazon.com.  

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