The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks

The Harlem HellfightersThe Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw Max Brooks on The Daily Show and was intrigued to read this book.  I'm torn about giving this only three stars.  This is a fictionalized account of the 369th Infantry Regiment--an African American unit who was set up to fail by the U.S. government, but came back as one of the most decorated units during World War I. For working so hard to get this story out there, I give Max Brooks 5 stars and more. However, I had a difficult time with the graphic novel format, hence the 3 stars.

Max Brooks tried to have a movie made, and was turned down time and again, so he decided to try a graphic novel. Again, kudos for not giving up. But, this particular graphic novel I found difficult to follow. This is the second or third graphic novel I've read, so I'm no expert, but the story is disjointed and jumpy, and because the drawings are in black and white, it's difficult to distinguish the characters. I think it would have helped a lot if the drawings were in color. In black and white, it was even difficult to distinguish the black characters from white characters. The drawings are harsh and it's often tough to discern what is happening from one panel to another because there's just so much black ink.

The author's note, historical note, and bibliography at the end were great and very informative. I hope that with the release of this book that the Powers That Be will reconsider and make a movie. I think there's a lot to the story that would translate well in film, but didn't do so well in this format.

A friend and I decided to read this together and she had an equally difficult time.  She felt proud of herself for taking on a graphic novel, as she should.  I hope this doesn't keep her from trying another one.  I recommended that she read Blankets next, which I really enjoyed.

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1 comment:

Kerri said...

I've never read a graphic novel I'm on the lookout for Blankets!