Monday, May 2, 2011

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

This book is making it hard for me to review it. I will start with the easy part and finish with the stuff that is giving me trouble from a review standpoint. Robot Dreams by Sara Varon is a dialog free comic. I love how this book looks and feels. It is a First Second book, so I am not surprised at the quality.

I was not really familiar with Sara Varon before I brought this home from the Library. As it stands, I now have a strong desire to read everything she has done. I think I like every single panel in the book. She certainly conveys a great deal in the nearly wordless pages. She also has created a book that doesn't rely on anything overtly negative or malicious. The inhabitants of the world this takes place in are all animals, and they are all depicted without cruelty or hostility in them. The story is a simple one, and it doesn't preach or moralize. It also makes very clear that reading and libraries are two extremely important things. When the dog needs to find a beach to go to, they hit the Library first. When they need to figure out how to repair a robot, they look in the Library first. It also shows us the benefits of various transit methods like the bus or Taxis. I really like that we get panel space for those things.

Check out Sara Varon's WebPage for more about her and her works.

Ok, here's the thing. Sara Varon is a heck of a story teller, and I genuinely do like every panel of her work, I really think the art is darling and the storytelling masterful, and the feelings of her characters convey right through the illustration and are touching and charming. All that being said, I hate the story and think it's an awful story. I yelled at the book when I was done. As if it was it's fault the story was awful. Here is my take on the story:

A dog orders a build it yourself Robot, makes a friend out of it. Does really nice things for it and with it, including going to the beach. The Robot swims and ends up rusted and immobile. The dog completely abandons the robot on the beach. The dog returns maybe a day, maybe a month later and the beach is closed, so despite seeing the robot right over there.. he leaves and starts on a quest to find new friends, leaving robot to lay there alone with his fantasies, etc. with no hope for rescue. At one point while robot is scavenged from in a way grossly disproportionate to the needs of the person who scavenged off of him. Jump to the end of the book, and dog just buys and builds a new robot. Old Robot has been found by a cool guy who makes him into a walking and dancing radio of a robot. He sees his old best pal walk by with his new robot, and plays music for them to hear, but they straight up ignore him and walk by. THE END

Please also note that the dog who abandoned the robot because of rust, easily carried him when he first arrived in box before assembly, and later carried the second robot the same way. Somebody doesn't value friendship or the feeling of others over the need to never be even mildly inconvenienced I guess.

The other thing about the story that gets my attention is how the plot is summarized in different places. The creator has the best and most accurate blurb about it, and then the publisher has some misleading notions that it posts, and I saw others commenting on it referring to it in ways that make you wonder if the read it at all.

So, In closing, I certainly liked a whole lot of stuff about a book whose story is on my Nixon-Style enemies list. Also, if you close one eye and read it in a different frame of mind than perhaps I did, you could see it as a story with a number of triumphs in it, a sort of survivors story, are one of winning through patience and perseverance.Link

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