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I’ll See You In My Nightmares

Alix reads Twisted Dark, Vol. 1, which, amazingly, might be the most disturbing graphic novel she's ever read.

I’ll See You In My Nightmares

BOOK REPORT for Twisted Dark, Vol. 1 by Neil Gibson

Cover Story: The Stuff of Nightmares
BFF Charm: Hell Nah!
Swoonworthy Scale: 0
Talky Talk: Love Actually meets American Psycho
Arty Art: Beautifully Terrifying
Bonus Factors: Schadenfreude
Relationship Status: OK Cupid Date That I’m Really Glad I Met in a Public Place

Cover Story: The Stuff of Nightmares

Gah! What the fuck is that?! I’m going to have nightmares after reading this, aren’t I? (Spoiler: I did).

The Deal:

A series of vignettes follows the lives of seemingly unconnected individuals all over the world, from drug cartels of Colombia to the backwoods of Norway. As the book progresses, links emerge between characters, and each story somehow manages to be more disturbing than the last.

BFF Charm: Hell Nah!

The characters are all very complex and well-written, but they’re also deeply, deeply fucked up. Not going near any of them with a ten thousand foot poll.

Swoonworthy Scale: 0

Yeahhhhh, this is not a kissing book.

Talky Talk: Love Actually meets American Psycho

Gibson’s writing is both effective and highly disturbing. The vignette structure compels the reader to continue turning pages, searching for the tenuous connections and eager to see how the next story could be more horrifying than the last. And because each vignette is so short, the breaks offer a tiny bit of relief before moving on to the next terrible character.

Arty Art: Beautifully Terrifying

Gibson’s artwork is gorgeous, but there’s something wonderfully off about it, too. As with the writing in each story, there is something foreboding in the drawings, a cruel glint of the eye or shadow that creeps just a little too far.

The other thing that I love is that the artwork changes for each story. While the above is drawn for an alcoholic, deranged recluse’s storyline, the following is for a horribly insecure and depressed little girl. I love the detail of her laptop reflected back into her irises.

Despite the shifts in style, the vignettes never seemed disjointed or disrupted. Rather, these relatively subtle changes really added to overall storytelling.

Bonus Factor: Schadenfreude

Dude, human beings are sick. The only thing more twisted than the stories in this book is the fact that regular, allegedly decent humans like me cannot stop reading this endless parade of horror.

Relationship Status: OK Cupid Date That I’m Really Glad I Met in a Public Place

This book sought me out on the internet, and it seemed like it might be similar to some graphic novels I dated in the past. But you never can be too careful about these things, which is why I’m really glad that we met in full view of my BFF. This is her outsider view on how our date went:

This perspective is offered by a friend of the reviewer, who merely watched said friend read a graphic novel. What follows are interpretations of what this book is about, determined by the highly scientific process of analyzing facial expressions and occasional outbursts.

It is not often that a book brings me to verbal exclamation, either when reading by myself or in the company of others. For that reason, I can conclude with certainty that this book is highly unusual, having brought my friend to gasp in horror, shield her eyes, and frequently let out bursts of expletives. Perhaps this is the nature of graphic novels themselves, which defy the traditional recipe of most books by leaving out the key ingredient: lots of words. Instead, we are left with images that some might say make up for the absence of prose.

Yet, I can hardly believe that the images are what shocked my friend or motivated her outbursts. We see thousands of images each day that are shocking and horrible. Today I saw a picture of Justin Bieber’s new tattoo. What no doubt earned my friend’s attention is the intensity of a story conveyed with few words. Reading between the lines of a graphic novel, is not, in fact, looking at pictures.

I can think of several novels that have inspired me to avoid the movie version for the rest of my life (looking at you, American Psycho). The sharpness and clarity of the descriptions have made my imagination perfectly nightmarish. What makes this book so special is that, with fewer words, it has achieved the same result.

We may think of graphic novels as picture books or comic books or various variations on an incorrect assumption. If this novel can inspire outbursts and an accompanying analysis from an onlooking friend, consider there is more to the graphic novel than pictures – and this one in particular may be well worth a read.

So yeah. That’s about right. This book is well written, beautifully drawn, and compelling. But it also freaked me the hell out.

You should maybe read it.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from T-Publications. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Twisted Dark is available now.

Alix West's photo About the Author: Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.
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