Alice goes through a fun house looking glass.
Ben Gilboa spins a tale that will set your mind on fire. Reality becomes something more akin to silly putty in his hands with a narrative that makes you question not only the motivations and interests of the characters on the page, but their sanity (and possibly yours), as well. There’s no way to read through Blue Moon without having a strong impact. It’s a Lynchian horror show that is quite beautiful to look at, making you feel like you’re cringing or reading out of the side of your eyes, wanting to keep one foot ready to flee this mental circus. It’s the kind of work that makes you wonder “What’s happening?” while making you nervous to know the answer. I dig it.
The story focuses on a high school kid who’s just not quite as in touch with the world as his father would like. Having lost his mother years before, Tim hovers just outside the norm, inhabiting an odd “other space” in the small town they live in. There’s a terrible sense of loneliness and isolation at work here, and as you dive deeper, you find that you’re not sure whose perceptions to trust. It’s hard to say just how mind-bending things get without spoiling, but just when you think you’ve got the world figured out and everything begins to make sense, the story takes another turn and throws everything to the side once more.
The artwork is visually stunning, the pencil work is gorgeous, and there’s always a clear focus for your eye. The isolation is reinforced by the extra space in every panel. Not often does the scene fill each entirely, and when it does, you realize how well Gilboa is using the negative space as a tool in its own right. The feeling of the book reminds me a lot of the Salad Fingers web cartoons, where you’re never quite comfortable with anyone in the world, and unsettling moments are followed by ones of pure joy, which is often left lingering long enough that the characters’ joy itself becomes the awkward moment you wish to escape. It’s a beautiful work that you can’t wait to look away from.
If you like psychological thrillers that will make you think, this is a title you can’t pass up. I doubt many could read this book without having a deep opinion on it; it’s that kind of polarizing and impactful work. I know that this one will stay with me for a bit and make me thankful that reality doesn’t bend quite this much in my own life.
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