Graphic Novel Review: Slaughterhouse-Five: or The Children’s Crusade: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

Slaughterhouse-Five: or The Children’s Crusade: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Kurt Vonnegut, written by Ryan North, illustrated by Albert Monteys. Archaia, 2020. 9781684156252. 192pp.

I’m a huge fan of both Kurt Vonnegut and Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics, To Be Or Not To Be, Squirrel Girl), but I generally avoid graphic novel adaptations. But this seemed to have a good buzz, and after dipping into the first few pages I was sure I’d love it despite my love for the original. The comics format allows North and Monteys to take us along with Billy Pilgrim moment to moment as he, unstuck in time, bounces between parts of his life (including the bombing of Dresden and living on Tralfamadore). It’s seamless, and seems like it would be easier to follow than Vonnegut’s book for some readers. My favorite parts are the three panel character summaries and seeing my favorite Vonnegut character: Kilgore Trout.

Monteys art stays right on the line between silly and serious, and he takes great pains to avoid showing any potentially offensive details, like in the scenes where Billy and Montana Wildhack are on display, naked, in an alien zoo. And he somehow does that without compromising the story or the tone of the book! For that alone every librarian should buy at least one copy for their high school and public library. (I liked it so much that I’m moving Monteys’ graphic novel Universe! to the top of my to-read pile.)


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