The Divine by Boaz Lavie

 

I have had my eye on this one for a while. It has been out for some time, but at usual I am behind on reading some most of what I have on my list. I had heard good things about this one and as usual knew next to nothing of what this one was about.

Boaz Lavie seems to be one interesting dude. He has worked in the TV industry, created his own game, as well as written a graphic novel. He is from New York but is an Israeli citizen and has spent much of his career in Israel. The Divine was a New York Times best-selling comic, as well as a Hugo Award nominee, that is pretty impressive, especially for his first ever book. Boaz has also written and directed a short film called The Lake, which has gotten quite a lot of positive reviews. I reached out to Boaz for an interview, but he is currently working on a new project and preferred to wait and do an interview when that is finished. Can’t wait to see what he is working on.

As far as I can tell this one takes place in the late 80’s early 90’s time period. There is a man named Mark who is an explosives expert and is betting on a big promotion at work. When he doesn’t get it, his coworker, Jason, tells him about a job that will pay him quite a large sum. The job is to travel to the war torn country of Quanlom, and set some explosives to blow up a mountain to make it easier for the workers to mine the precious minerals that are buried within. Jason assures Mark that the war is nothing and the job is nothing to worry about. Mark takes the job, and once in country, Mark realizes there is much more going on than he was told and understands. There are some otherworldly happenings that he cannot explain taking place right in front of his eyes. Mark just hopes he can survive to get home to see his wife and child.

I was surprised by this one for a few different reasons. As I mentioned above I had no idea what it was about, but the story really had me sucked in. I did not expect some of the elements that were introduced to be part of the story. There are quite a few neat ideas in this one as well as some very real problems that are taking place all over the world.

The coolest part of this one is the mystical and or magical aspect of the story. I do not mean spells and what not, but just the mystery that is sometimes attributed with the Far East. I am talking about the mysticism that deals with spirits and the belief that mountains or forests contain spirits or dragons. It is always cool to see how ancient legend and modern technology come together to create a fascinating story. I think this is one of the coolest aspects about story telling. This story has dragons, spirits, dragons, giant monsters, and super powers.On the other hand while all the things mentioned above are fun and add a sense of wonder and excitement to the story, there is also an aspect that brings the reader back to reality. Child soldiers are a tragedy on any level imaginable and this story, somewhat differently, touches on this idea. While the writer, I think, was trying to make this a point of the story, he did so subtly. It was not the main idea or overly emphasize, in fact I would say that it is expertly done so as not to over emphasize the point. I was glad that the story did not turn into a lesson on how terrible child soldiers are, we can all agree it is horrible. (On a side note I recommend reading A Long Way Gone and Beasts of No Nation if you are interested in this topic, both great reads.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the story from start to finish. The story itself is well done and near perfectly blends the real hard facts of life in a war torn country with mysticism and folklore of the region. That always makes for a fun read.

The artwork in this one is some of the most interesting I have seen. I cannot quite put my finger on how it was created. If I had to guess I would say that there is or are some digital aspects to it, but I am not sure. Honestly, there was times when I was reading that I thought each panel was going to start moving. Each panel looked like it was a cartoon and if I looked at it long enough would move. It was really strange and this is the first time I have ever experienced this aspect in a graphic novel or comic. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am sure I have seen a cartoon with that style of artwork, so my mind just wants to make it move, I have no idea? The colors are good and work extremely well with the art style. Page layouts are good, nothing much from what you would ordinarily expect from any other comic. Although, I will say that this book in terms of dimensions is much smaller than a normal graphic novel tpb. I am not sure why the creators of this book chose this size, but it does not inhibit the artwork or the story in any way.


Another interesting aspect of this story is that it was based, somewhat loosely, on real life people. In late
90’s two children named Johnny and Luther Htoo led an uprising in what is today Burma. I had never heard of these two kids, but it was pretty interesting to read about them and their following. As I have said many many times you never know what you will learn while reading. This is a fictions comic book and in the end I learned about two children who led a guerrilla uprising in Burma in the 1990’s. You should defiantly check out their story, just Google their names, it is one crazy story. And as always never stop reading, no mater the medium, there is always something to learn. You just may have to look harder sometime than others.

This book was released in 2015 to much critical acclaim. It was nominated for quite a few awards, and was chose by a few different publications as one of the best graphic novels of 2015. I have to say that for me it mostly lived up to the hype and you will certainly be seeing this one again at the end of the year when I give out my awards.

All in all this is a really cool story that you will not be disappointed in. The story perfectly blends folklore
and modern technology to create a truly unique one of a kind story. Add that in with the neat artwork and you get nicely polished and superbly finished product. You should check this one out if you get a chance, you will not be disappointed.

Manik

 

 

 

 

 

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