Friday, February 11, 2011

GEtting GraPhic: The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger



Title: The Night Bookmobile
Author(s): Audrey Niffenegger
Reading Level/Genre: Graphic Novel
Hardcover: 40 pages
ISBN:978-0810996175
Publisher: Abrams ComicArts (September 1, 2010)

I picked this one up because it's about a library and I saw the nice blurb by Neil Gaiman on back. Unfortunately I didn't find it at all to be a story "perfectly told".

The Night Bookmobile is the first of a larger work being titled The Library, as explained by the author in the "after words". Because of this I feel it's possible that my understanding of the story is in fact out of context until I read the completed book. But since it is published here as a single book, I also find it fair to review it based on itself alone.
About the length of a child's picture book, the story follows a woman named Alexandra from a random night in her early adult life when she comes across a mysterious and almost magical-seeming bookmobile. She becomes obsessed with it's existence, its strange librarian Mr. Openshaw, and with finding it again when she realizes its visits are inconsistent. However the story never really makes sense. We never find out why Alexandra gives up so much of her daily life to pursue this bookmobile, or share enough time with her to fully connect. 


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                                             reading beyond contains spoiler

Even so, I could have accepted all of that vague plot and thought the book strange but intriguing had the ending not included her choice at the end to commit suicide just to become a night bookmobile librarian herself. The wtf moment of that was just too insane for me. It seemed like a weak attempt to be deep without sufficient storyline and as if it glorified books over life itself at that point.
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On the flip side I did like the idea of everyone's life being quietly documented through the books they've read, all by librarians on the other side so to speak. Exploring the concept of books as also having the ability to become a channel for checking out of present life and losing oneself in fantasy also made sense as the darker side of loneliness and using reading to live vicariously instead. But overall I still felt this book went dark without any logic or relatable context.
So I don't know...read it for yourself and let me know what you think. Or if you've already read it, loved it, and feel I missed something, feel free to share:) I'm really curious to hear others opinions on this one.

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