My rating: 3 of 5 stars
V for Vendetta is, to me, a series of excellent quotes with illustrations I could mostly do without. The story is interesting, but the pacing is so strange when read as a whole, and the art style was just not for me.
The story follows V, a mysterious masked and caped crusader on a mission to disrupt a near-future Britain which has taken a sharp turn towards fascism following some kind of world war in the 1980’s. V declares himself to be an anarchist, and sets about creating the conditions for anarchy to subvert the strict controls of the fascist ruling regime. The story’s heroine, if you can call her that, is a young woman rescued by V when she is cornered and threatened by the secret police. Very little of her back story is revealed, and though he is the main character, very little is revealed about the enigmatic V either.
There are some really interesting ideas explored in this book. In particular I enjoyed the discussion my book club had around what would you will willing to give up in terms of freedom for the sake of safety. Moore delves into this idea over and over again throughout the book, as V challenges the public to acknowledge their complicity in voting in and permitting over and over again violations of freedom and privacy in the name of safety and stability. I felt that challenge keenly, because what is the standard I would walk past and thus accept and where would I draw a line on encroaching restriction? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that the kind of future world Moore imagined is far closer to a reality in many Western nations today than it was in the 1980’s when he was writing this tale. But one of my favourite quotes reminds readers that in a democracy, no matter how fragile or restricted, it is the citizens who have the power: “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
My other favourite quotes are varied in theme:
“By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe”
“Ideas are bulletproof”
“Everybody is special. Everybody. Everybody is a hero, a lover, a fool, a villain. Everybody. Everybody has their story to tell.”
When it comes to my overall feeling about the volume, it’s a conflict between fascination with the ideas and frustration with the execution. While I understand the point that was being made in revealing so little about V it did make for a rather frustrating read. It was never clear what his motivations were, if any, aside from revenge, and this coupled with the lack of ‘thought bubbles’ and other usual narrative clues found in graphic novels made for a slow and difficult reading experience.
V for Vendetta is definitely an ‘adult’ graphic novel not a comic book for kids, and I would suggest that with the themes, violence and language it would be appropriate for ages 17 and up.
While the ideas in it were interesting and will prompt further reading for me, this is not a graphic novel that I can see myself ever rereading. I do think it was worth the read, just to have a greater understanding of some of the context for things that have followed on and been inspired by it, but beyond that my enjoyment was limited.