On this, the last day of Banned Books Week, I decided to cast my net a bit further in defining what counts as a book. And I chose 20th Century Boys, a Japanese manga series by Naoki Urasawa. It’s an amazing story—honestly, one of the best stories I’ve ever read, hands down—executed with a deft hand for character and pacing and emotional weight. And it’s in book form, so it counts!
I’ve been a fan of graphic novels and manga for many years now, and I’m incredibly impressed by the breadth and quality of stories told in this serial art format. From stunning, complicated art styles to very simple styles, these creators weave amazing stories, using panel composition and framing, color and linework, to guide the reader through.
20th Century Boys, in particular, is a favorite of mine. It follows an ordinary workaday Japanese man named Kenji, thrust suddenly into a conspiracy involving a cult trying to take over the world. And the seeds of this cult—and the means to stopping them—lie in Kenji’s past, in the stories he and his childhood friends wrote together when they were just kids hanging out in their secret fort. There’s a LOT more to it than that. But suffice to say it’s equal parts mystery, thriller, horror, and intense character drama, and the time I devoted to reading it was time very well spent.
I think (I hope) that graphic novels are being viewed more often these days as the mature, varied medium they are. They encompass a wide variety of genres and have a lot to say to us. And honestly, there are so many I could recommend to those willing to give them a try.
Anyway, that wraps up my week of talking about books that have had an impact on me! There are so many more that I could have included here, that I’d love to talk about in future posts. So, watch this space!
And in the meantime, if any of my listings have inspired you to pick up something new, or at least gotten you thinking about books that have impacted your own life, I’d be happy to hear all about it! After all, the world can always use more Book Love.