“Hunger is what gives us energy to fight.”
When a young girl is captured in the forest and brought to the city, only to escape shortly afterwards, all manner of individuals and organizations try to get their hands on her, no matter the cost. In a chilling and clever tour de force, the authors use the backdrop of the 1910 Great Flood of Paris to depict a world where animals rule and humans are viewed as curiosities, scientific guinea pigs, hunting trophies, and the occasional snack. A political satire that forces us to question our treatment of different species, the nature of intelligence, and more. (Goodreads)
This French graphic novel originally titled Hélas is a story from a parallel universe where animals are the dominant species set in 1910 Great Flood of Paris. I was hooked right from the start!
The unique art, color scheme, and the use of colors to differentiate spaces is exceptional and also helped me to understand what was happening. The setting of a flooded Paris is something new to me. I didn’t know at all that this has happened before. This is why I love historical fiction, it brings information as well as great stories.
The role switching is done expertly. There is real discomfort of seeing humans treated as animals. It effectively reminds us that no kind of species will ever deserve cruelty and abuse from any entity or organization. All creatures are worthy of kindness.
There are a lot of really morbid and disturbing scenes but it also has the right amount of humor inserted where appropriate.
I love the political stance of the novel against all forms of oppression. It questions to what extent can we justify the use of violence or force in the name of science and pursuit of knowledge. It also shows us how history may just be a combination of fact and fabrication made by people (or animals in this scenario) in positions of power.
This book will leave you with a lot to think about humanity and history.
Big thanks to NetGalley and Europe Comics for giving me a copy of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review. 🌸
Overall rating: 4/5⭐️
About the authors
Artist Rudy Spiessert was born in 1974 in Nice, France. For the first decade of his life, he lived in a circus, and planned on being an artist, cowboy, and secret agent when he grew up. He then moved to Tours, drawing whenever he could, and when he graduated from high school, he began studying visual communication and started drawing logos. His first jobs as a freelancer included package design, until he found work as a graphic artist for a web design company. By the early 2000s, he had switched gears and begun his entry into the world of comics. His first collaboration was on a comic strip with Hervé Bourhis, and soon Spiessert was off and running. In 2010, he and Bourhis came together again to create Hélas for publisher Dupuis (Alas, Europe Comics).
Born in 1974 in Chambray-lès-Tours (France), author and artist Hervé Bourhis developed a passion early on for superheroes, a universe that he discovered in the monthly magazine Strange in 1984. At the age of seven, he wrote his first comics script, titled Goldorak et les savants de Wachigtone, which will forever remain unpublished, perhaps due to his hesitant spelling. At the age of sixteen, his ardor was tempered somewhat when his art teacher told him comics were food for the dull. It was only three years later when he began to bounce back, as he found work as a web graphic artist. His first book was published in 2002 by publisher Humanoïdes Associés, Thomas ou le retour du tabou, which won the prestigious Goscinny prize, which recognizes the year’s best upcoming script-writer. His production has been prolific ever since, including the beloved Petit Livre series (Le Petit livre Beatles, Le Petit livre de la bande dessinée). He enters the Europe Comics catalog with the graphic novel Alas (Hélas, Dupuis 2010), alongside artist Rudy Spiessert.