REVIEW: Freiheit! (2021)

A graphic novel by Andrea Grosso Ciponte

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

There’s a tendency, in World War II scholarship, to almost entirely concentrate on Hitler and the battles of the war, keeping some of the more human aspects of the war in the background. Even the Holocaust is usually spoken about in vague terms if its not explicit something like a diary or journal of one the victims. Something I knew almost nothing about, prior to this book, were internal German resistance groups. I knew they absolutely had to be a thing, but seeing as they did not overthrow Hitler on their own, it’s usually relegated to a footnote in many books. The White Rose was one such group, and this graphic novel tells their tragic story.

With an entire nation blindly following an evil leader, where did a handful of students find the courage to resist? The university students who formed the White Rose, an undercover resistance movement in Nazi Germany, knew that doing so could cost them their lives. But some things are worth dying for. The White Rose printed and distributed leaflets to expose Nazi atrocities and wake up their fellow citizens. The Gestapo caught and executed them. Sophie Scholl was twenty-one; her brother Hans, twenty-four; Christoph Probst, twenty-three; Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf, twenty-five. But the White Rose was not silenced. Their heroism continues to inspire new generations of resisters. Now, for the first time, this story that has been celebrated in print and film can be experienced as a graphic novel. Italian artist Andrea Grosso Ciponte’s haunting imagery will resonate with today’s students and activists. The challenges they face may vary, but the need for young people to stand up against evil, whatever the cost, will remain.

Description

The story in Freiheit! is told largely from the point of view of Sophie Scholl, who has become disillusioned with the government of Germany due to their strong-arm policies and mistreatment of Jews. Prior to the events of the book, her brothers were arrested by the Gestapo, setting in motion their membership into an underground resistance movement of intellectuals that produced subversive pamphlets calling the Nazi leadership into question. One nice touch, is that translations of these documents are included in the book.

The art style and overall composition by Andrea Grosso Ciponte was very moving and vibrant despite the book’s muted color palette. Each panel, even the most subdued, is treated like a scene in a film – interesting transitions, camera angles, and blocking are all well-done. It gives this book a VERY cinematic feel.

I enjoyed this a lot, and plan to look at some other books by the same publisher pretty soon. The book has served it’s purpose of making me interested in The White Rose, and I may also look into a book about the Scholl siblings at some point. Having historical documents in the back of the book was a great touch, and immediately elevates this to the status of being a teaching tool. I once took a class in college about The Holocaust, and I honestly really wish this was out at that time. This would have been a great story to share with my class. Solid book, definitely recommended.

REVIEW: Snow Angels (2021)

A short story by Jeff Lemire

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

Life in the Trench is harsh but simple—until a young girl braves an unknown path in a bracing coming-of-age short story by the New York Times bestselling author of Sweet Tooth and the Gideon Falls comics. Born into a small, sheltered community on a hostile ice planet, Milliken was raised to believe that the Trench provides for those who huddle beneath its massive walls—and that those walls stretch to infinity. But venturing into the wilds beyond the village is a rite of passage she’s longed for. To push into utterly forbidden territory is to make a discovery that will forever change how Milliken sees her home, her family, and her future.

Description

What a fitting thing to read as I sit in my house with unseasonably cold -25 degree weather outside. Cold air creeping into every crevasse of my home, and an air that stings my face when I have to do mundane things like checking the mail. What better thing could I do than curl up in a blanket and read some interesting stuff on my kindle. I was drawn to Snow Angels, as I am a big fan of his comic-related works. I did not realize he sometimes wrote books, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Amazon appears to be sweetening the deal for those that use Amazon Prime, by offering a series of short stories exclusively for members. I am not 100% sure how new promotion is, as this was the first I’ve heard of it, but they have some pretty big names on-board.

I quite enjoyed this story, and hope it goes past being just a short story. As it stands (20 pages or so) this looks like the first few chapters of a larger book, and I was like “nooooo!” at the end when I realized it was over. Perhaps, Lemire can bring this to the comics world as well? There isn’t much I can say about this story without spoiling it, but I will say that the best part was trying to figure out what was going on. Is this a fantasy story, prehistoric, or even post-apocalyptic? You get a hint at the end, but it simply makes you want to know more. If you have yet to check out Amazon Original Stories, this is a fitting first look. I loved it!