Sabrina by Nick Drnaso review: a tour-de-force graphic novel

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Author: Nick Drnaso
ISBN-13: 978-1770463165
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Guideline Price: £20.63

This US graphic novel has been called a “masterpiece” by Zadie Smith. It’s a state-of-the-nation piece that follows the disappearance of the eponymous character. It looks at the impact on her sister and especially her boyfriend and the old school friend he goes to stay with. The relationships are full of compassion and human kindness set against a backdrop of internet-driven paranoia and conspiracy theories: eg the people who think shootings like the Sandy Hook Elementary School one were staged as part of a government power grab. Alienation is brilliantly drawn as directly impinging on the characters – showing how love and compassion become difficult as people are pushed away from each other in this fearful atmosphere. The reader is made to feel the fretful foreboding as everyday incidents – looking for a lost cat, a knock on the door – become moments of dread. Thus the suppressed, almost muffled characters, move through the aptly pastel-grey and blue-toned frames which paint a nuanced indictment of a society at war with itself. It even manages a tone of hope at the end. Excellent and highly recommended.