Tuesday 19 January 2016

Review! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - Starve Vol 1 by Brian Wood

Title: STARVE Vol 1.

Author: Brian Wood.
Contributors: Danijel Zezelj (artist,) Dave Stewart (colourist.)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Dystopian.

Series: Starve (#1-5.)

starve graphic novel coverRelease Date: 26 Jan 2016.

Amazon: UK - USA.

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.
The cover here grabbed me. 'Don't judge a book by its cover' doesn't really count for graphic novels - the cover is the place where the artwork is showcased, after all.
It seemed different. And you know me, I like different.


OK - my description probably isn't going to do this justice, because this book takes its premise and beats the living sh** out of it, but I'll give it a shot:
Gavin Cruikshank was the TV chef. Then he dropped off the grid. His TV show, STARVE, is now a huge hit without him - and has undergone some changes along the way.
Now the network wants him to compete as a contestant on STARVE. Gavin Cruikshank is back, bitter, and fed up of the network's sh**.

Best bits:

The artwork here is amazing. Every single panel is like a painting - and a beautifully grim one at that. Honestly, this book is... it's something that's incredibly difficult to explain.
The artwork has this grit and realism, while at the same time being beautifully stylised and slightly surreal. Partly, this is down to the colours: earthy and almost touchable (look at me, waxing lyrical and all that!) with slashes of crimson where required.

This is dystopian. What with all the fighting and inequality and everything. But it's so close to what we have now that it's actually hard to tell whether this is set in the future, or just a slightly exaggerated version of what we have now. Which is kind of unnerving.
I also liked the inclusion of Gavin's family - his struggles to re-connect with his daughter, and the bitterness of his ex-wife who feels he used her as a cover for his homosexuality. I like when there's very human feelings at the heart of things.

Not so great bits:

I could've done without the images of butchery and bloody meat etc. (and before you start with the 'you'll eat sausage but...' bit, I'm a vegetarian.) Doubtless there are some people who it won't bother - but it bothered me.

There's a lot of swearing and a fair amount of violence, as well as references to drugs. Not for everyone, but not done simply for shock-value either.


I hope I've given you some idea of just how fresh, original, and downright good this graphic novel is, but it's really a difficult one to convey.

It's just so different - in a good way, of course - and I truly loved it. Though I sincerely doubt I will ever be able to look at either chefs or reality TV in the same way - particularly chefs.

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