Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Review time! with ‘200’

“There’s no chance for us, it’s all decided for us, this world has only one sweet moment set aside for us”

Jennifer Brody adapts her own short story into a graphic novel, and Jules Rivera draws it for her. It’s published by Keylight Books, and let’s check it out!

The idea of 200 is interesting – it’s sort of like Logan’s Run to a degree, except the bell tolls when you turn two centuries old. Medical knowledge has evolved to a point where the human life span is extremely long, but once you hit 200, there’s a test to see if you can live on. Apparently the length of life can make people a bit crazy, so they need a test to see if you’re mentally stable enough to live on. If not, you get euthanized. Eva Thorne is the latest to go through the test, and she’s already fatalistic, because the chances of success are not great. She is also in mourning because her long-time husband, Owen, left six months earlier and never came back, so she’s sure he’s dead. Of course, he’s not dead, as she discovers when she’s about to get tested, so she breaks out and goes on the run. This is, naturally, verboten, but Eva doesn’t care! Owen doesn’t remember their life together, so Eva tries to get his memory back as they’re running, while two people who have passed the test are chasing them.

Unfortunately, there’s not much else to it. There are a couple of twists, one of which we’ve seen a lot of times before, and the other of which doesn’t make a ton of sense, but that’s not really the problem. The problem is that Brody doesn’t really get into this world enough, and she definitely doesn’t get into Eva and Owen’s relationship enough. The prologue gives us an idea of what happens when people snap, but it’s unclear later, when they think that’s what’s happening to Eva, if people snap because they can’t handle being that old or if they snap because they think the “millennials” – those who have passed the test and can therefore theoretically live a thousand years – are going to euthanize them. There’s not a lot about what this society looks like, and the psychological effects this “testing” has on people – Eva and Owen make a bucket list and go through some of it, which helps Eva bring back Owen’s memory later, but there’s not a lot of of background with this, so it doesn’t feel as important as it could. The way Eva helps Owen reclaim his past is not bad, but like a lot of romances in fiction, the reader has to do a lot of heavy lifting to get why they’re together in the first place – in a lot of fiction, we often begin when the lovers are separated, and occasionally there’s not a lot there to show why they were together in the first place. We get how they met, but as happens too often, Brody mistakes sexual attraction for love, and people don’t stay together for 170 years unless there’s a lot of love or they are extremely experimental with their sex life. There’s a lot of time devoted to the excitement of the chase, but not a lot of time devoted to making it clear why these two people will risk so much to defy their society.

Rivera is a decent artist, although like a lot of artists, she has some trouble with fluid action, which is a bit of an issue as so much of the story focuses on the chase. It’s not bad, just not as good as it could be. Her character design is good, though, as she gives us people who look “futuristic,” for lack of a better word, without making them to exotic. Just their hair and clothing is enough to set them in the future, and those touches are very good. She also designs a nice world for Eva and Owen to run through – again, there’s enough that’s “of the present” to ground it, while some of the more futuristic stuff feels logical and not simply flights of fancy. She does some interesting things with the art – the panels are often jagged shapes, which adds to the frenetic nature of most of the book. The shapes also direct the reader’s eye quite well, as she seems to place important things within the panel where they open up or at a place where the shape forces us to focus on it. It’s fairly clever. She also uses a good monochromatic color scheme – yellow for the present, for the most part, and pink for the past. although it’s not completely rigid in that way. She does a nice job with Eva and Owen, but Virgil, one of the two “millennials” chasing them, is the most interesting character, as he has a personal reason to stop them, and Rivera does a nice job with his rage, which is slowly taking him over. It’s a pretty good-looking book, and it helps the story quite a bit.

It’s frustrating when I want to like something and I don’t, because it depresses me, and I also don’t like picking on creators who work hard on stuff. Some creators bring it on themselves, but I don’t have anything against Brody and Rivera and I wish I liked 200 more. It’s an intriguing idea, certainly, but it just didn’t cohere as much as it should have. I will link to it below, in case it sparked an interest in you. I’m not the end-all, be-all of judgment!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


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