I’m going to come right out and say it: this book gave me a huge headache. Fromthe outline, I expected it to go one of two ways: an over the top Tarantino-esque B movie free for all or an overstylized, overwritten, oh-so-serious exercise in style over substance. Sadly, this clearly fell into the latter category.
The overly complicated yet ultimately meaningless plot had something to do with three fetish models going after demonic memory collectors. Of course, it wasn’t that straightforward – we had to deal with all the metaphysical hoo doo, meanderings, and splotchy shadowy watercolor drawings. Admittedly, about half way through I just started to skim; this was clearly one of those exercises of peeling an onion and ending up with nothing but tears when finding an empty center after all the effort.
The journey of reading might have been worth it if the story hadn’t been presented in such a jumble. Minimalistic, full page, formless shadowy water color drawings are then paired with densely written novel type pages. Then interspersed with those were random normal line-comic drawings. I would enjoy a page of the artwork and then have to come to an abrupt stop and read several pages of text. Then back to the stylized watercolor art pages. Then suddenly a comic book. It was jarring and really killed the flow of the concepts and story. Other books have mixed mediums well (e.g., Nowhere Men, also released this year), superbly mixed a cohesive story, grand ideas, and various non-comic additions into a very satisfying read. But that was because there was a unifying style throughout. With Memory Collectors, there is no uniformity. Voices are dreamy, concepts nebulous, and then we’re reading a modern, gritty, urban horror story. Girls are smart and thoughtful and then suddenly rush in and act stupidly. It is like looking through a schizophrenic mind and it isn’t pretty.
Not helping the read in any way is a very poorly formatted advanced readers copy with a huge copyright obscuring text and artwork. If the story wasn’t enough to give you a headache, the presentation sure was.
I love a high concept graphic novel as much as the next girl. I don’t even mind main characters clearly meant to stimulate the, uh, minds of prepubescent boys. But the story should have depth, cohesion, and a unifying theme. And mixing the media should involve creating additions, not abruptions, to/of the main story.
This is probably one of my biggest disappointments this year. I’ve rated it three stars because there is some cool art in there. But no more than that because I didn’t turn my brain off fast enough to prevent the pain of the presentation and naff storyline.
Reviewed from an ARC.