Comic Solutions

Book Review: Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 5.06.46 PMShackleton:  Antarctic Odyssey
Nick Bertozzi
First Second
June 2014

Ernest Shackleton was a hero. He was one of the last great Antarctic explorers in a time when it seemed that all had been discovered and there would be no new adventures. But Shackleton was not deterred. He assembled a team of the best and brightest and undertook one of the most ambitious expeditions ever undertaken…they would cross Antarctica. The first time such a feat had ever been attempted.  Shackleton planned and raised the funds to complete the journey and promised his men that he would lead them all back home. But in order to keep that promise Shackleton and his crew would have to face an unimaginable journey across the deadly ice, cold, and the loss of their ship would stand in their way.

This is not your typical graphic novel. In part because its a biography of an explorer that few people maybe familiar with. And in part because instead of being told about the adventure they went on second hand, like we’re hearing about it afterwards through letters or remembrances, we’re right there with the characters. Struggling with them as they try to survive the cold, the ice, and the dangers they never saw coming. Nick’s black and white illustrations make it almost feel like we’re watching an old black and white news reel and that we’re accompanying the team along their journey. Although the illustrations are relatively simple, Nick adds details to keep visual interest that will keep the reader looking for visual imagery that enhances the story. The story here, is also somewhat unfamiliar to most readers. Instead of giving extra details that some books do it’s more of a…almost clipped style of conversation. The type that we can really imagine explorers during this age sharing, which gives the book that much more realism.

When I initially read an electronic ARC of the book, one of the things that I missed with a good bibliography/further resources to learn more about Shackleton.  The book had caught my attention and I had to resort to reading Wikipedia to learn more about the group.  And while Wikipedia is a decent place to get some information, I really wanted more!  Thankfully the final print version contains an addendum about the group and Shackleton himself and a list of recommended resources to learn even more about the group, so others have a chance to learn not only about the brave souls that explored the icy unknown, but why they risked their lives to do so.

Overall this is an interesting story of a group of explorers that time has forgotten for more famous names, such as Captain Robert Scott. Nick has let their legacy be known to the world once more and that’s a wonderful thing.  Although my review is late, the book was published in time for the 100th anniversary of this expedition, in order to help celebrate and honor the men on this journey.  I give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

ARC provided by Gina at First Second

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