Book Review: I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly (Graphic Novel)
Barbara is a middle school student with one intense focus–she must learn how to kill giants before it is too late. She doesn’t fit in much at school or have many friends, but she doesn’t really care, because she needs to be ready for the giant. The giant is connected to a secret at home, you see, and this secret takes over her life too much to care about all those silly things the other girls talk about.
I picked up this graphic novel because it was getting tons of buzz as being an excellent graphic novel. I also wanted to know what this big secret was in Barbara’s life. Does the graphic novel address something that isn’t discussed much in polite society but is still an issue for many middle schoolers out there? I was dying to know! Unfortunately, I found myself incredibly disappointed with this graphic novel. I can’t discuss why without spoiling what the giant is, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip this review.
I was expecting the giant Barbara is facing at home to be something like abuse or incest. Instead, it turns out Barbara’s mother is dying of cancer. Um. Ok. I’m sorry, a big scary giant doesn’t seem to be quite the right metaphor for a dying parent. What makes this little girl think she can fight death? I guess I just don’t get it.
Additionally, I just really didn’t like Barbara. I honestly get tired of graphic novel writers always making the main character a geek. This little girl–shocker–plays D&D. She is cruel to her classmates. She judges them. She’s even mean to the one girl who for some unearthly reason shows an interest in Barbara and what she likes to do. She, quite frankly, rubs me the wrong way, and I don’t think she’s supposed to.
Then there’s the art. I also didn’t like that, especially how he drew Barbara. Why does she have bunny ears? What’s up with that? The drawing style never feels artistic. Not once did I find myself sucked into the pictures to get further into Barbara’s world. They felt more like badly-done newspaper comic strips than a graphic novel.
Overall, I’m disappointed that I even bothered with this book. It’s one of those few instances when if I’d known the spoiler ahead of time, I’d have saved myself some time. I can’t even imagine handing this over to a middle schooler dealing with a terminally ill relative, because I don’t think it particularly presents healthy coping mechanisms or solutions to unhealthy ones. Why this book is so popular remains a mystery to me.
2 out of 5 stars