Monday, 10 August 2015

Review! The Never Weres- Fiona Smyth

The Never Weres is a graphic novel by Fiona Smyth, who I was taught by in my semester away during art school at OCADU in Toronto in 2010, when she was working this book. Its a YA graphic novel set in the future:
"Late in the next century, the human race faces extinction. An incurable virus has left the world with no new babies since the last generation. Doom is all but certain, yet three of the world's last surviving teens are determined to carry on.
When the friends stumble upon the decades-old mystery of a missing girl, it leads them deep into a shocking secret buried long ago. It will take all their skills to uncover the truth that just might save the world."
It's a super cool concept for a dystopian future, with the main characters as the youngest people alive. There is a big science industry looking into cloning, but there are huge ethical debates about cloning humans, even if it has not been successful to do so yet.  Mia, Xian, and Jesse attend a school, which seems to be mostly run by robots, with loads of empty classrooms, as there are no longer younger students to fill them all. The illustration are great, especially the busy street scenes, where there is so much story telling packed into the details.

My five favourite things about The Never Weres:

1-The story is narrator by a character called 'Storybot Sasha', which is pretty cool, as it means we know some kind of consciousness continues after the time of the ageing population, even if it is a robot future. It's also a really handy tool to keep the reader up to speed in what is actually a pretty complicated story.

2-I'm fairly sure its set in a futuristic Toronto.

3- The protests and riots of pro- or anti-clone groups is a really cool addition. Of course there would be a lot of political action in this dystopian setting. Often in similar story settings there is a powerful government quashing any criticism or chance of uprising, however allowing characters to protest makes for a pretty interesting subplot:
"Even as the city's population dwindles, the occurrence and ferocity of protests and riots are on the rise. Anarchists, anti-governments militias, and end-of-the-world cultists commonly take to the streets. But no gorups clash more than the pro- and anti- cloning activists."
4- Mia's parents want to send her to a survival camp. Because of course if things continue as they have been, with no cure in sight, then at some point it really will be a case of survival. Mia's arguments about leaving her mark on the world with her art are powerful too, because if the human race really is ending, leaving a trace of humanity in art could be beautiful

5- Xian's robot cat, Loly! Just the coolest thing ever.

The Never Weres is published by Annick Press and can be purchased on Amazon.

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