Monday, 27 August 2018

The Danes by Clarke


The Danes by Clarke
First published in French as Les Danois by Le Lombard in France in January 2018. English language translation by Edward Gauvin published by Europe Comics in June 2018.

One of my August Authorfest reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

Europe Comics
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon (only in French)

When an Aryan baby is born to a Muslim woman living in Copenhagen, her husband’s family shuns her. But DNA tests prove Sorraya’s fidelity. And she is just the first in what soon becomes a rash of similar cases across Europe, threatening widespread social change even as they ignite passions in immigrant communities and incite familiar racial hatreds. What mysterious conspiracy connects a retrovirus, a young slacker biogeneticist, a former punkette, a dogged reporter, and pharmaceutical giant Keoxis? Clarke delivers a contemplative slice of near-future science fiction paced like a thriller but full of probing questions about our prejudices.

I've been switching between three and four stars for my The Danes rating because, on the one hand, I did really enjoy reading this graphic novel but, on the other hand, the more I think about how it raised its issues, the more uncertain I am about whether I should have enjoyed it. So let's start with the good points! The illustrations are clear and vivid. I loved Clarke's depictions of Copenhagen and I could feel the characters' confusion and anger as the plot progressed. The story itself takes the theme of a virus running rampant across Europe, but turns the familiar idea in a new direction. The thriller side is fast paced and exciting.

On the negative side, there is so much story in this graphic novel that I think it needed to be at least twice as long to do itself justice. We seem to jump from the first few cases of the virus to thousands of cases in just a couple of pages and I felt this took away from The Danes believability. The chaos happens too readily. It needed a longer build-up. There are concurrent storylines, neither of which felt fully realised to me so perhaps concentrating on one or the other would have made for a stronger effect?

The Danes is essentially about racial prejudice and I am sure the author imagined the story as one to promote harmony. However, aspects of it don't reinforce that message, not until the very last frames anyway. Regardless of parentage, the babies are blond and blue-eyed so the virus appears to do away with racism by making everyone white? Also, everyone saving the day is white and male. People of colour are shown rioting and women (except one) mostly hold babies. Erm, really?


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Clarke / Graphic novels / Books from Belgium

12 comments:

  1. yeah, it doesn't seem to do well with the racial inclusiveness- but I'm glad you liked aspects of this one. I do love graphic novels though!

    -lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I've only been reading GNs this year so am still getting used to the format, but I love the amazing variety of subjects and stories

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  2. It's different and I'm all for a book with a good message, but too bad it also fell short of the goal a bit, too.

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    1. Yes, it did make me feel just a little uncomfortable at times

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  3. Wow this sounds like a really compelling graphic novel, it probably would have benefited from being longer with such complex themes.

    Tori @ In Tori Lex

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    1. It could be excellent as a full scifi-dystopia novel - or even a long HBO series!

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  4. I really do need to try a graphic novel sometime. I am not sure that they are for me but they do seem to be varied. I am sorry this one fell short in some ways for you.

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    1. Kristen at Metaphors and Moonlight got me into graphic novels. I had preconceptions about them not being suitable for me as an older woman. That idea has turned out to be total rubbish!!

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  5. I've noticed GNs sometimes have that problem of things happening too quickly. And it does sound like one has some other issues as well :-/

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    1. Yes, I felt like it meant well (and I probably wouldn't even have noticed this a few years ago), but the multicultural aspect was very Them and Us which made me feel uncomfortable

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  6. Ooph - it does sound problematic! But if you enjoyed it, you enjoyed it. You can enjoy problematic things as long as you don't ignore the issues :)

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    1. I am certainly becoming more aware as a result of blogging and appreciate that I can spot these problems now

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