This week I'm going somewhere different. I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a rut.
A couple weeks back, I walked into a Barnes & Noble and was immediately impressed with the sheer amount of sci-fi and fantasy titles on their shelves. The selection at the B&N nearest my house has shrunk faster than the comics section of your local newspaper—if you still have one. Energized by seeing so many titles available, I immediately went for the graphic novels and dove in. I picked up enough to keep me busy for quite some time, including the book I want to talk about today: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
Written by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, I have to admit it was the art by Becky Cloonan that caught my eye and made me stick around long enough to decide I wanted to buy the book. There’s lots of color and depth without being overdrawn. There’s a superhero vibe here, mixed with Manga, and I dig it.
The story? You immediately understand this is a dystopian future. The Better Living Now corporation pretty much runs everything. Bands of youthful rebels survive in the desert while agents of the BLI hunt them. It’s city versus desert, and the city is winning. Ten years ago, the revolutionaries had a sort of “super team” known as the Killjoys, but they gave their lives to save one little girl—and no one knows why, not even her. The book begins with her making her way out of the desert in search of food, quickly becoming entangled with a new group of revolutionaries, and witnessing them slaughtering BLI agents in cold blood. Recognized for who she is, or was, they want to know what was so special about her that it would lead the Killjoys to sacrifice themselves to save her. The BLI wants to know, too, and still hunt her to this day. One group sees her as savior, the other as an obstacle to their dominance, and she is caught smack dab in the middle.
I enjoyed this book a lot. I’ll warn you now—there’s a lot of violence, language and sexual situations included, so you may not want your younger readers giving it a go just yet. But there’s plenty here to like, even given the (tired?) trope of the evil corporation dominating the dystopian future. The characters are interesting and engaging, the world believable as a not-too-distant possible future. The idea of the Killjoys being set up as a pseudo-super team also held some fascination for me, reminding me of the days when DC had the Justice League, but people remembered the Justice Society. That kind of story connection makes the world feel deeper and richer as a whole, and I like it.
Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and 2013 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fanzine (Editor - SF Signal), and 2014 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Fancast. He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Hugo Award. In addition to his Kirkus posts, he writes for atfmb.com, SF Signal and Functional Nerds.