Books Magazine

Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith

By Pamelascott

The year is 1964. Bailey doesn't realize he is about to fulfil his tragic destiny when he walks into a US Army recruitment office. Secretive, damaged, innocent, trying to forget a past and looking for a future, Bobby is the perfect candidate for a secret US government experiment, an unholy continuation of a genetics program that was discovered in Nazi Germany nearly 20 years earlier in the waning days of World War II. Bailey's only ally and protector, Sergeant McFarland, intervenes, which sets off a chain of cascading events that spin out of everyone's control. As the monsters of the title multiply, becoming real and metaphorical, the story reaches a crescendo of moral reckoning.

A 360-page tour de force of visual storytelling, Monsters ' narrative canvas is copious: part familial drama, part thriller, part metaphysical journey; it is an intimate portrait of individuals struggling to reclaim their lives and an epic political odyssey that plays across two generations of American history.

Monsters is rendered in Barry Windsor-Smith's impeccable pen-and-ink technique, the visual storytelling, with its sensitivity to gesture and composition, the most sophisticated of the artist's career. There are passages of heart-breaking tenderness, of excruciating pain, of redemption and sacrifice, and devastating violence. Monsters is surely one of the most intense graphic novels ever drawn.



(@JonathanCape, 29 April 2021, hardback, 365 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib)



This is a new author for me. Monsters is a graphic novel which uses black and white ink drawings. I've read a few graphic novels but I want to read more books in this style as I've found them to be just as well-written and enjoyable as a standard novel with added visuals to really bring the book to life. Monsters focuses on the US Government experimenting on a naïve young man using Nazi technology - you know how that's going to turn out. Monsters reminds me a lot of Frankenstein and Bobby becomes physically very similar to Mary Shelley's creature. I enjoyed how the book explores the past of Bobby and his father highlighting key moments that led to Bobby becoming a lab rat. I was also impressed by the fact the author didn't go down the obvious route, turning Bobby into a freak or a killer but really humanised him. Monsters is a terrific read.

Monsters Barry Windsor-Smith

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