Sam is an ordinary office drone, with an unsatisfactory, mediocre life. Until one day he wakes up to find the world is falling apart. A pandemic, terrorist attacks, and a dirty bomb have led to societal collapse. But the next day, Sam’s back in his ordinary life: commuting, dreading work, and avoiding his boss. As his days continue to alternate between dull safety and exhilarating mortal danger, Sam starts to wonder which world is real. And which world he wants to escape.
The sparse, but emotive illustrations of this graphic novel highlight the stark contrast between Sam’s two worlds. They also help the reader experience how jarring it is for Sam to jump from one world to the other day after day.
Revolver by Matt Kindt explores the themes of purpose, mortality, and choice. In his safe life, Sam is intimidated by his boss and resigned to a life of empty consumerism with his materialistic girlfriend. But living through societal collapse, where every day is a life and death struggle, prompts Sam to question his priorities and his fears. Is the safety of his normal life worth its emptiness? Is the growing sense of purpose and strength he finds protecting those he loves in the collapsed society worth the danger and deprivation?
At less than 150 pages, Revolver is a quick read, but it packs a lot of food for thought into its few pages. The story neatly blends elements of the apocalypse and multiple lives sub-genres, while incorporating a “what have I done with my life” subtext for the main character. The story reminds me a bit of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, the classic short story by James Thurber about an everyman dissatisfied with his humdrum life.
If you’re looking for another book about a character who lives multiple lives, try Rewrite by Gregory Benford. Twice divorced college professor Charlie Moment dies in a car accident and wakes up in his childhood home, in his 16-year-old body.
For another thoughtful, apocalyptic graphic novel, there’s The Oven by Sophie Goldstein. A couple in a world suffering from severe ozone depletion searches for a rumored paradise outside the oppression of the domed cities that constitute civilization.
Librarian’s Choice is a monthly series where we share and review our current favorite reads. This month’s review is by Mark Santoro, Librarian II at the Aspen Hill Library.