Tuesday, May 13, 2014

YALSA top ten GNs 2013: Trinity

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb
Written and illustrated by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
Published by Hill and Wang (2012)

It's not often that I think of a graphic novel as specifically for young adults. I am forever looking in the teen section in libraries to borrow graphic novels, and complaining that thing X is shelved there, but thing Y is shelved somewhere else, and that none of it makes any sense. I frequently think that by shelving something in the YA section of a library you are decreasing the number of people that will see it and borrow it (or at least the types of people). But that is all just conjecture and could be applied to any book shelved in any section. Maybe we should just put all the books in one big pile*.

Despite that Trinity is definitely what I would consider a YA graphic novel, though to some extent I would struggle why I think that way. I think ultimately it's because I didn't feel as though the book went into as much depth as it could have in regards to basically any element of the story. Everything is told well and clearly, but it also seemed to be a surface telling of what happened. Additionally, the use of explanatory text boxes throughout on many pages reminded me more of picture books or illustrated text than a comic, yet this is clearly not something for children. (I have limited experience dealing with kids, but I can't imagine trying to explain an atom to them.) However, everything did seem to be about the right level for a student in junior high or high school.

Artwise everything was fairly good. I mean, nothing really stood out to me, and I found it a bit weak in places where characters seemed particularly stiff, but it conveyed the information in an effective way and the illustrations describing elements of the science can definitely be beneficial to the reader. However, I was not impressed by the lettering, both in the choice of fonts and the design of the speech balloons.

If someone was interested in reading a graphic novel about this sort of things I'd probably recommend Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick instead. I don't remember exactly what it covered, but Richard Feynman did work for the Manhattan Project, and his biographies present a considerably more human and entertaining account of his experiences there (to be totally honest I'd probably just recommend the books themselves instead of the adaptations, as I thought they were great!). But as a general overview for someone (a younger someone?) who is not aware of the history surrounding this event, Trinity is probably works fine as an introduction to the science and history surrounding this project.

*No we shouldn't.

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