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Mike Carey & Peter Gross – The Unwritten, Vol. 2: Inside Man

September 24, 2010

113. The Unwritten, Vol. 2: Inside Man by Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Jimmy Broxton, Kurt Huggins, Zelda Devon, Chris Chuckry, Jeanne McGee, Todd Klein (2010)
The Unwritten, Volume 2

Read my review of:
Volume 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

Length: 168 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Started / Finished: 09 September 2010

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I loved the first volume and thought it was one of the most promising openings to a series that I’ve ever seen, so of course I was going to keep reading.

Even prison walls
are no match for the power
of a good story.

Summary: After the grisly events at the end of Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity, Tom Taylor is transferred to a secure French prison, awaiting trial. He still maintains that he is not the same as Tommy Taylor, the hero of the wildly popular children’s fantasy novels written by his father, although most people don’t entirely believe him – and the increasingly high body count around him means that he’s gone from being lauded as the word made flesh to being reviled for tarnishing everyone’s favorite childhood hero. As much as Tom wants to deny the hold his father’s work has over his life, he’s forced to admit that something strange might be going on when a prison breakout attempt lands him in Nazi Germany… in the middle of the story of Jud Süss.

The collection ends with a Peter Rabbit-ish tale about someone who has not been taken out of a story, but put into one, much to his hard-living, cynical, foul-mouthed chagrin.

Review: I normally get my graphic novels from the library, but I think I might have to break down and start buying this series. Not only because it’s fantastically good – which it is – but also because there is so much going on, and everything is so very meta that I am having a hard time remembering all of the pertinent details in the 6+ months between publications of the trade paperbacks. Re-reading is definitely called for, and that’d be a lot easier if I actually owned them.

The reason that re-reading is called for, apart from my faulty memory, is that there are a *lot* of layers of story packed into these deceptively thin books. There are stories within stories within stories, and most of these stories are about stories, which makes for a wonderfully fascinating and complex world to explore, but also can make it a little bit dense to pick apart. Unusually for a book I like this much, the main character’s not a particularly likeable guy… but that’s part of the point, and the plot’s fascinating enough that it really doesn’t matter. I still don’t have a good handle on where all of the characters stand, or even on who all of the major players are, let alone what they’re really up to, and I did feel a little bit lost at points in this volume, but overall I am eager to see how all of the various layers unfold as this story (stories) continue. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Don’t start on Vol. 2, but I’d enthusiastically recommend the series to anyone who likes metafiction or other stories about stories and/or Neil Gaiman (particularly the Sandman series). It should also appeal to Fables fans and adult Harry Potter fans who would appreciate a darker twist.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Inside Man Reports: The Fall of Tom Taylor???

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2010 10:49 am

    I wanted the second volume to advance the story more! I am so curious what is going to happen. I mean, I’m all in favor of little digressive single-issues, as in the Sandman and other good comics of the world, but I want to know what’s going to happen! I hate waiting.

    • September 26, 2010 4:13 am

      Jenny – Hard to spoil yourself on the ending when the ending hasn’t been published yet, eh? :)

  2. September 24, 2010 12:20 pm

    I follow this series comic by comic, because I’m impatient and the cover art is so deliriously gorgeous that I have to own them piece by piece. It’s definitely worth it–I tend to reread the last couple issues before I dive into the next one.

    (In fact, I’m going to go pick up the next issue today. This series is so good.)

    • September 26, 2010 4:16 am

      Omni – I haven’t ever done a comic issue-by-issue, and I don’t know how I’d like it. On the one hand, you get a fix more often, but on the other hand, each fix is so short, I feel like I’d never be completely satisfied.

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