Monday, July 7, 2008

Graphic Novel Monday: Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan

Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan. Published 2007 by Drawn & Quarterly. Graphica. Fiction.

Exit Wounds is a deceptively simple graphic novel by Israeli artist and writer Rutu Modan, set in modern-day Tel Aviv and focusing on a young man named Koby Franco and his search for his missing, enigmatic father, Gabriel.

As the story opens, Koby's relationship with Gabriel has been strained for some time, and it has been months since the two last spoke; Koby meets a young woman soldier, Numi, who had had a relationship with Gabriel and believes he may have been killed in a roadside bombing. Their search takes them on a journey through Gabriel's secrets, and leads them to a place neither expected.

But Exit Wounds isn't just a love story or a story about secrets; it's about identity, about reconciling with your past and being able to move on to a future. Mostly it's about learning when to let someone in, and when to let someone go. The artwork is spare and simple; clean, simple lines define unshaded washed colors, and faces and bodies have just enough definition to transmit emotion and mood. Commentaries about social and political inequalities in Israeli society are interwoven into the story, which is broken up into four neatly defined chapters.

It took me a few pages to get into the story. The beginning felt abrupt, like I'd just been launched into Koby's life, and I think that's the point. He meets Numi unexpectedly, and all of a sudden his whole world is turned inside out. Modan does a great job providing the reader with a little of that feeling of disorientation. The story picks up steam, and although I could never call it brisk it moves along at a good clip. The ending is inconclusive but sweet and optimistic; the mysterious Gabriel is never revealed. Exit Wounds is a very satisfying read; it's definitely an older teen-to-adult story as it has some violence and sexual content. If you're interested in Israel or just want a good story with complicated characters I think you'll like Exit Wounds.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.