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Review: I and You by Beverly Garside & Lucas Duimstra

This Ayn Rand-inspired comic book from writer Beverly Garside and illustrator Lucas Duimstra is a refreshing read in my pile of reviews this month.

Drawing on the social theory by novelist Rand of Objectivism, i.e. that the sole purpose of life is to pursue one’s own happiness, and to basically act individually in everything to better oneself (hence the title alluding to the outlawed use of the word “we”), we follow Sara, a young official working for a military sector which monitors activity across the nation via cameras a little like Big Brother’s CCTV style watch. Sara believes very much in the selfish manifesto of her beloved republic – and is shocked when her brother starts taking part in team activities and using the word “we”.

As her boyfriend starts to act more than selfishly and her colleagues turn on her in ways she couldn’t imagine could happen in her safe world, she starts to see the flipside of the perfection she thought existed in her life – and develops some questions of her own.

It’s nice to see a self-published comic book of such calibre – Duimstra was faced with some pretty neat challenges in illustrating this book and his woodcut style comes off fabulously here. Illustrations are sketchy and imperfect in a way that adds to the story – spikey and inky, they are exactly right for this epic tale.

The story is along the lines of Divergent or Equlibrium, which makes it bang on the money for this season’s storytelling, with the craze for stories such as The Hunger Games right now.

However, the book is highly detailed and somewhat complicated in its political and military crafting – sometimes I was admittedly a little lost on the strategies as the tale unfolded, so it may be really more for an adult audience than a young adult read. But – good! Not everything has to be for young adults – lately it has been appearing that way.

This world is one to get lost in – there are beautiful details such as the cultivating of mini whales for aquariums, a whole community of lost souls outside the city who act like zombies, and educate their kids via a TV show because they can’t afford school.  The book really does come alive when you start getting into it.

Sara is not a very nice woman to begin with, but her passion and dedication to the State does hold your interest – she makes rookie errors in her self-aggrandisement which kind of endears her to the reader and induces a feeling of rooting for her salvation as all around her fight against the dictatorship forced upon the global community. When cracks start appearing in her plans for life, the reader can only feel sorry for her and the grim family she is part of. The story then takes a turn and becomes incredibly exciting as Sara gets involved with rebels and spies.

There are definite parallels with world events today, and using Ayn Rand’s theory bridges the gap between fiction and reality – making it a more scary thought that maybe if the world carries on down the same path of narcissism, this is where we could end up.

A brave and massive tale from a solid pairing of talent – I can only hope another book is in conception.

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