Wednesday, 27 December 2017

#CBR9 Books 119-120: "The Unwritten, vol 10: War Stories" and "The Unwritten, vol 11: Apocalypse" by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Total page count: 304
Rating: 4 stars

Tom Taylor is trying to find his way back to his friends, moving through a number of children's stories. Even when he's reunited with his storyteller father, Wilson Taylor, who by writing a popular fantasy series where the main character shared Tom's name, pretty much gave him the abilities to move through all manner of works of fiction, and his friends, the world is in chaos, as the Leviathan, the source of all the stories in the world, is gravely wounded. The boundaries between stories are thin and unreliable and it's difficult to tell what is real and what is fiction anymore.

Tom and his little band of supporters need to find a way to heal the Leviathan, but it seems as if all the wicked forces in the world are working to stop them, controlled by Pullman, the eternal adversary. To complicate matters further, there's the mysterious puppet-mistress, Madame Rausch, who seems to have her own agenda, separate from both Pullman and the Wilsons. In the end, it all comes down to one final quest and if Tom succeeds, he can save both our own reality and restore the balance to the worlds of fiction. If he's thwarted, thing could go very bad indeed.

War Stories and Apocalypse collects issues 1-12 of the miniseries The Unwritten:Apocalypse, which is both the final installments of the entire run of the comic, yet somehow also seems made to stand on its own. Throughout the graphic novel series, author Mike Carey and artist Peter Gross has collaborated closely, exploring the importance of storytelling and the nature of stories. What is reality? What is fiction? Is our world just a story told by someone else? What is it about humanity that we keep coming back to the same themes and motifs in storytelling through the ages? Are there ancient archetypes built into our DNA?

It's been about ten days since I finished vol 11: Apocalypse and I wish I could give you a clear and concise opinion, but I'm honestly not sure I got all the things that Carey and Gross were trying to tell me. I'm not sure I'm literate and clever enough to parse all the various levels of the storytelling that was coming across. I have studied literature at university level (but unlike my husband, who is naturally analytical and pretty much picks apart anything he watches, reads or listens to just for fun, I generally prefer to just consume my entertainment on more of a surface level). It's clear that in these 12 issues, Carey and Gross are saying goodbye to their characters, tying up loose ends and providing an ending. There's a lot of clever stuff in here, but again, I'm not sure I understood it all. Even after having recently seen Mike Carey talk about the ending at a sci-fi/fantasy convention, which made things somewhat more clear, I'm not entirely certain if I get all the nuances here.

Maybe, in time, if I go back and read the whole series closer together, this will make more sense to me. I am tempted to just make my husband finally read the final issues and make him tell me what he thinks. I frequently do better when I can bounce ideas off someone else.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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