2 Sisters by Matt Kindt

I have to start this review by saying that I absolutely love that we get original story/vision graphic novels like 2 Sisters. I may not always like them but I’m always intrigued and very glad for the opportunity to read and enjoy distinct and unique points of view. With this particular book, which is a 1-volume stand-alone story, author Kindt avoids a simple narrative and instead interweaves several stories independent of chronology or linear narrative. The stories – a Greek cup’s journey through history, a female pirate, and a woman in London during WWI sending money back to her sister – remain independent for a long time but do eventually intersect. But the ending isn’t the intersection expected.

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Story: Elle is dating a bloke in London while engaged as an ambulance driver during World War II. When his building is bombed and he is killed, she is recruited to become a spy and avenge his loss. Although she is sending money home to her older sister, she agrees to do many different espionage deeds – each one killing her a little inside. At the same time, we learn of a woman on a ship captured by pirates – who cuts her hair off to join the pirate crew as a desperate act of survival. And in ancient Greece, a slave escapes her shackles, sneaks into baths, and steals a gold cup. She sells it to purchase a horse and flee Greece.

The common thread of all the stories is, ostensibly, the Greek cup. As it travels through history, it tells a tale of strong women who use it to find their salvation in different ways. Although each woman opts for a lonely life, she is freed of the shackles binding her thanks to what she does with the cup. How each encounters the cup is truly random and all the more interesting because of those quirks of fate. So although the cup may seem like the main theme, what we really have are stories of survival and strength by women through history.

The art is sketchy, angular and surprisingly simple – making it at times difficult to interpret. Each page really must be studied since there are few words and only small changes mark important information. Honestly, the book can be very difficult to follow and definitely rewards upon rereads. If a reader isn’t following carefully, a lot of the plot and characters’ actions will be mystifying.

2 Sisters is a book that really shows its depth and nuance the more it is read. Since the book jumps around quite a bit and author Kindt enjoys turning situations on their head (literally, in the case of one pirate) the underlying messages can easily be lost. This isn’t for the casual reader who wants to peruse, get an easy payoff, and then chuck; it really gets better and better with rereads.

There is a lot of story here and it may seem too many tangents if not read carefully. It all does tie up in the end with a rather large plot twist – and what look like throwaway scenes in the beginning suddenly make a lot of sense once the book is finished. For those who enjoy a book that challenges and intrigues, 2 Sisters is a good choice. Everyone else is likely going to be left scratching their head at the simplistic drawings and puzzling storyline. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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