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Graphic Novel Review: Paris 2119

Paris 2119 by Zep ( story ) and Dominique Bertail ( illustration ). Yep, we have an optical illusion with the line curvatures on the cover, here. I had to triple check to make sure this image didn’t become amorphous. If my checks had failed, I would have beat it into submission. Is that a pane of glass, separating the light from darkness? Interesting . . .

I received this graphic novel as an ARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.com

Blurb:

Celebrated author Zep (A Story of Men, A Strange and Beautiful Sound) weaves a mystery borne from humanity’s addiction to convenience and technology, and the dangers such addiction can propose. This gorgeously illustrated, poignant sci-fi tale aims a spotlight on current social trends such as over-consumption, climate change, identity theft, and transhumanism. Painted in detailed watercolors by Dominique Bertail, this book evokes the classic science fiction styles of Jean “Moebius” Giraud, Enki Bilal, and Jean-Claude Mézières.


Since the creators opted to list the social trends covered, I will make a quick one-liner note about their relation to this story:

  • Over-consumption: a letting caused pollution leading up to a teleportation device that is problematic in it’s deceitful nature. All in attempt to fix a problem that just ends in more problems.
  • Climate change: atmospheric disinfection program that causes it to rain non-stop.
  • Identity theft: What happens after attempting to contain a man after you erase his identity? Trouble.
  • Transhumanism: digital clones, teleportation, privacy concerns potentially all leading to mental and physical problems.

The choice of art style here is interesting, as the extended description on Amazon says, “[…]in a classic style reminiscent of legendary French graphic novelists such as Bilal, Moebius, and Mezieres.” The art style isn’t futuristic, but rather archaic:

Inside art style for Paris 2119.

This isn’t an entirely clean piece of work with at least a couple of F bombs and nudity, but neither was excessive. The concepts of this future are almost slung at us in a hurdling speed, giving a solid taste of them and their immediate effects on Mr. Keys, with little-to-no mystery about the basic concepts as they are first presented in these ~75 pages of visual story with scene changes, twists and turns that made it compelling and interesting.

Let’s talk bad stuff. I felt like certain transitions and scenes of this story could have had just a bit more thought and effort put in to them, to make them feel a bit more genuine. Dialog at the beginning was a bit heavy, then at other times seemed to be cut short.

If you don’t want the potential spoiler, just skip this paragraph.

In a bit of analysis: Ol’ poor Mr. Tristan Keys! Our protagonist that gets gas-lighted from all sides and almost never realizes it. It seems he has no solid shoulder to lean on and is a bit misunderstood in his own perspective . . . but does he invite this reaction with his curious behavior in a bit of an Echelon Conspiracy type scenario? My best guess is that the antagonist, which seems to be the height of technology itself and it’s protectors are acting in a sort of defense mechanism against Mr. Keys curiosity. The interaction with the professor was interesting and almost put in a reversal of seeking. I hope you can see what I mean, if you read this one. I found that reverse seeking quite interesting. And, Mr. Keys’ relation to the world around him is that at first he is nothing, then through his almost silly, strategic-less behavior he is saved by the technology itself, the very thing he is fighting against, the tool that he is fighting against. So, with this being some-what of a morality story . . . what’s the moral in that? Yes, that technology is a tool we should use and that’s it, not the other way around. End of story. The ending of this graphic novel might seem puzzling for some, how Khloe knows who Tristan is, but I think I know why she feels so comfortable just getting into the car with Tristan, even when she is suppose to not have any recollection of him, however it’s pure speculation, so I’ll keep that to myself for now.

Recommendation:

Paris 2119 delivers conundrums about the future we can only speculate about and this story seems more aimed at the trickle-down effects of deception more than anything. In a man’s journey to find truth, because he feels like something isn’t right. However, even though the story is mostly well put together and original in it’s specifics, it lacks originality and depth in overall themes and I give this graphic novel ★★★✬☆ three and a half stars.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

By S.D. McKinley

S.D. McKinley lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in the first half of the 1980's and grew up in Wisconsin as a young boy, then moved to Georgia when he turned exactly twelve years old. During teenage years, he raced dirt track go karts and played guitar. He discovered his current love for all kinds of art after his mid-life crisis at 25 years old. S.D. McKinley began writing books in 2017.

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