Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review:: The Night Bookmobile (Plus, A Few Thoughts on the Graphic Novel)

Late one night after a fight with her boyfriend, Alexandra takes a walk and comes upon a parked Winnebago. The man in the driver's seat, Robert Openshaw, explains that it's The Night Bookmobile, it's only open from dusk to dawn, and then he invites her to come inside and see the collection. Upon further inspection, Alexandra realizes that not only has she read every book in the library, but that there are even copies of her old childhood diaries housed in the Winnebago. Mr. Openshaw explains that the Bookmobile is her personal library and that everything she has ever read is catalogued there. But as the sun begins to rise, Mr. Openshaw and the Winnebago are forced to go, leaving Alexandra wanting more.

Over the coming years, Alexandra comes upon the Bookmobile a few more times, each time it's larger and updated with all the recent books she's read. But it's never enough and she becomes obsessed with the Bookmobile. She goes to school, becomes a real librarian, and later the director of a large library in Chicago. Still, she's empty, she wants to work in her personal library with her private collection. But can she get there? And if she does, will she be happy with her choice?

This is the second graphic novel I've read by Audrey Niffenegger, the first being The Three Incestuous Sisters, which I admit to checking out from the library because I thought it would be wildly freaky. It was not. It was very dull. The Night Bookmobile though, was wonderful. The story was completely original and I never knew what would happen next. The ending was somewhat shocking and magical, but in a good way.

I know a lot of people tend to avoid graphic novels and I'm not sure why. Maybe for fear of there not being a good plot or cohesive, linear storyline? (I admit I've read a lot of crappy graphic novels.) Maybe you think of them as comics, thus not real literature? Or maybe you just don't want to spend your book money on a book that you can read in one night? I can totally understand that. But if you've never read a decent graphic novel then you're truly missing out on a large genre of literature and a type of storytelling like no other, that a lot of times focuses on topics you won't find in typical novels.

So if you've been avoiding the graphic novel, it's time to shake your fear and head to your library. If you don't know where to begin, here are a few of my favorites:

*The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

*Blankets by Craig Thompson

*The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Do you like graphic novels? If so, what are some of your favorites?


beck said...

Hey Tammie, I'm not sure I've ever read a graphic novel. This one looks fantastic! I love the idea and theme. Thanks for suggesting it, I'll be looking in my library (local, not personal!) for a copy x

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

Yup....I have graphic novel fears. But this sounds like a good one. Now, I'm trying to imagine what my own personal bookmobile would look like. Lots of Nancy Drews, Trixie Beldon's, Agatha Christies -- it would be very mysterious.

Stephanie Meade Gresham said...

I have not read any graphic novels, but I have read Audrey Niffenegger before and have found that I can totally enjoy one and be put to sleep by another.

I'm struggling to finish "Until I Find You" by John Irving right now. It's not boring, but just slow. And slower since I'm too tired to read once I find time.

Good review and having the photo up there makes me want to flip through it next time I go to the bookshop.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

I'm going to the library this weekend to see if this one is there. Thanks for the tip.

Dani said...

I'm not a graphic novel fan, but this sounds very interesting.

I gotta add it to the list...a list that swims in my head and is going to require looking through a lot of my peeps' (you, for one) archives.

daphne said...

I love a good graphic novel but I'm fairly picky. This sounds lovely. I'm sure my own personal library would be quite large, but what a FANTASTIC idea!!!

mandy said...

I also love graphic novels.
Blankets is one of my faves.
I'm totally checking this one out.