Review: Alone

by Emma Sewell
by Emma Sewell

Where were you when The Vanishing happened?


“Five children wake up in a mysterious deserted city. They must learn to survive – alone.”

At the beginning of the book we are introduced to these five children, all from very different lives, they are brought together by the suddenly empty city. Ivan, lonely with busy and distant parents. Leila, frustrated with her father. Camille, studious and quiet. Terry, young and acting out. Dodzi, strong in the face of bullys.

We swoop straight into the story, the five have woken up and discovered everyone has disappeared. Not just adults, everyone, as far as each is concerned they are the last person left. What was going through each of their minds before they found each other we can only imagine at this point. We first see Dodzi, Alone The Vanishingcomposed the night before, we now see he’s visibly upset to be alone. It is easy to live in a nightmare when there are people there, but with everyone gone it is hard to see what is actually real.

As they come together each gradually comes into their own. Dodzi from fairly early on is established as a leader and has a great instinct for danger. When all five have grouped they settle in Ivan’s house and try to think what might have happened. Hidden camera show? A similar apocalyptic destruction of that which sealed the fate of the dinosaurs? Or a simple yet disturbing thought that this is what happens after you die? All well thought out possibilities considering they came from a child.

Dodzi once again shows his independent leadership and wants to go out to investigate the area. This splits the group and brings each their own adventure. [Clearly they don’t watch Scooby-Doo, splitting up is never a good idea.]

After this manic interlude they come back together to form a different plan… and to execute my favourite part of the book. They need to leave the house with protecting against whatever lays in wait outside, so they “Home Alone” a car. I’ve appropriated this phrase as it’s the only way I can think of to describe their creation of a doomsday vehicle that is worthy of a survivalist award.

Relocated to a much more secure building where Ivan’s father is “pretty high up”, both literally and figuratively. As they set up camp for the night Dodzi once again heads out on his own into the building. When he returns we see what his secretive actions have been about. He has turned the building into an SOS beacon by turning the lights on to form “SOS” on the side, a great feat even for an adult.

When they awake in the morning nothing new seems to have happened, except for the fact that Terry has disappeared. Dodzi once again uses his excellent skills to work out that he’s more than likely gone outside. As they split up again you can see a disaster round the corner, but good fortune brings them back together to a safe conclusion. By the end they’ve worked out that they need to stick together and figure out how they’re going to get by without grown-ups… just in case.

The book itself is in a very traditional format, made up of square panels, it is very easy to follow and all the text is in a clear font. Through out the story the changing colours make for great atmosphere. Ivan’s introduction is hazy and dull giving you the sense or loneliness, Dodzi’s uses a strong red that makes you sense the anger and in the storm you get an amazing sense of the lightning and torrential rain.

The illustrations themselves are simple but effective, I would say that you are treated to words in the panels where there don’t really need to be any. If you take many of them without the dialogue you can still glean a lot of the story from what you’re left with. There is a particularly beautiful set of panels near the beginning where Dodzi makes Leila cry and Terry lashes out at him, from this to where they set off the search the whole story is there in the pictures. This is what graphic novels are all about, communicating with the pictures as well as the words, it really does enchance the story.

Although this is quite a short graphic novel, it is a very well told story. The second part is available from the same publisher, I have no doubt that this one will be another well told addition to the Cinebook catalogue.

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