Thursday, 28 July 2016

Review: I.D. by Emma Rios

I.D. by Emma Rios

‘Being unhappy with what we are, or have may seem frivolous but it is inherently human’

I.D. is a dystopian tale, analysing perceptions of identity through three characters considering a body transplant as a solution to their problems. The graphic novel itself is quite short at 84 pages and reads much like a short story, honing in on the turbulent times these characters are living in, and the difficult decisions they are making about their future and identities. Their initial meeting is supposed to be brief, a short meeting in a coffee shop to meet the others considering the body transplant; however fate, circumstance, and the universe force them to spend more time together than anticipated.

I.D. begins mid-sentence of the three meeting for the first time. They don’t know the other’s backgrounds, and nor do we. We are introduced to the characters the same way the characters are introduced to each other. As the graphic novel is so short, little is revealed about the characters as the story progresses; however we are presented with a short snippet of their lives and their reasons for considering the body transplant. We’re forced to focus on the characters in that present moment, on the immediacy of their reactions, thoughts and feelings about their planned transplants, rather than extensive character development. It’s an approach that’s true to life, in the sense that you don’t get an automatic backstory for every person you encounter in life, you meet them at a specific time in their life and can only gather what they choose to reveal. It’s an interesting approach and definitely one to make you think.

The characters include Noa, a Trans man, Mike, an ex-convict, and Charlotte, a seemingly bored woman with a history of depression. They’re thrown together through their mutual consideration of the body transplant. Their interactions are humorous, as are their contrasting personalities. Whilst they are only together for a short time, we get a real sense of their personality thought their actions, which is emphasised through Rio’s amazing art and attention to detail.

The entire graphic novel is completed in shades of red. Whilst this is sometimes a little confusing during some of the few action scenes, it works well. The hues of red depict a sense of mystery and urgency, making this graphic novel feel really unique. If there’s one thing I absolutely loved, it’s the layout of this graphic novel. Rios overlays the wider image with smaller and cleverly placed boxes, often in sequences of squares and circles, depicting smaller details, especially facial expressions, through which we learn a lot about the characters. They give little inklings of their personality and inner workings that otherwise go unexpressed.

Whilst this graphic novel does not go into huge detail, it also throws up some questions about the ethics of procedures by big medical corporations and meshes a largely unexplained and unexplored dystopian and sci-fi setting with questions of identity. I.D is a brief but interesting read.

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Thanks to NetGalley for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.

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