Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Midnight Nation

I have a wonderful job working in the Adult Services department at the Kankakee Public Library. I love reading a wide array of books. From chick novels to murder filled non-fiction to young adult books. More recent additions to my reading selections are graphic novels. If you have any negative preconceived notions of what they are I am asking you to throw them out the window. For those who don't know, graphic novels are basically longer versions of comic books. Sometimes they are a complete series of comic book stories all bound into one large book other times they are their own story. One of the most popular graphic novels is Watchmen by Alan Moore which was named on Time Magazine's 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present.

Two people turned me on to this genre. First, was Leah Bill who came to the Kankakee Public Library to complete her practicum for her Master's in Library Science. She was telling me about her class on Trends in K-12 Literature and I took notes as she told me about great graphic novels for my 8 year old daughter to read. Babymouse, Nancy Drew, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Bone, Amelia Rules and many more. My daughter loves these books very much and is always asking me to find her more.

The second person to turn me on to these books is my friend, comic book artist, Don Kramer. What better person to suggest these kind of books than from someone who does the artwork for them? He has loaned me stacks of his favorite ones including Midnight Nation by J. Michael Straczynski.

Midnight Nation is a deep and thought provoking book. This book doesn't have flashy superheros in capes. It has a world of people who have slipped through the cracks in life and find that they are invisible to ordinary people and can only interact with things that have been discarded by the living. Detective Grey awakens to find himself in this strange world. A beautiful guide, Laurel, appears and tells Grey that his soul has been lost and that with her help they need to retrieve it. On their journey they encounter the Walkers who they have to elude in their quest for David's soul. The Walkers are other lost souls, like David, who want to keep his soul in their world and make him one of them. David is forced to review his life. How he lived it, how he affected others, how he hurt his wife and has to make a difficult decision. What confronts him in the end is eye opening and surprising to him and us. Midnight Nation is the kind of book you can read over and over and pick up something new each time.

Since these two people have brought graphic novels to my attention I now notice them everywhere. Next time you go to a bookstore or better yet your local library be sure to look for the Graphic Novel section. You will be truly surprised at what you see. I know I was surprised by the selection of books geared towards girls and ones that are based on classic stories. I read Beowulf by Stefan Petrucha and Kody Chamberlain and loved it. I have fond memories of reading the original Beowulf and it was a lot of fun to read a shortened, illustrated version. You can also find works by Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, Charlotte Bronte...I could go on but just do an internet search on your favorite. Happy reading!