If you’re looking to vary the genres and styles you read this year and want to try a graphic novel, try this one.
If you’re interested in the story of a hero who paid the ultimate price to show love to others and stand against Hitler, read this book.
Actually, if you have a pulse, read this book. It’s informative, it’s gripping, it’s thought-provoking—basically, it’s a masterpiece.
Hendrix does an incredible job laying out Bonhoeffer’s faith and the focuses he had on the importance of community and loving the “other” at all costs—and also the actions he took based on those beliefs, risking his life to live out what he believed and taught. In an easy-to-understand manner, Hendrix shows the moral dilemmas Bonhoeffer faced (Should he lie in the interest of saving lives? Is murder okay if it’s Hitler you’re planning to murder? Should he take the chance to escape and save his life, if doing so would put his family in danger?) and how his philosophy altered as he faced extremely difficult choices.
At the same time, the graphic novel chronicles Hitler’s rise to power and shows his Nazi ideology in a dramatic fashion. It’s easy to wonder how Hitler ever managed to achieve total power and remain unchecked as he used it for such terrible evil; this book gives a clear and succinct description of the way many factors combined to make such horrors possible.
And when I say that Hendrix shows Bonhoeffer’s philosophy and Hitler’s menace, I don’t just mean that his writing “shows instead of tells” (although that is also true). I mean it literally: Hendrix’s art complements the text in a powerful way that provides visual metaphors to support some of the more abstract things he discusses. Such images include comparing Hitler to a wild, devouring wolf and his minions to evil rats that infiltrate buildings through cracks.
If that sounds like a lot of information for a 170-page graphic novel, it is. But despite the amount of complex information that is conveyed, the book still maintains a clear, focused story line. It never feels hasty or scattered.
And last but possibly most important: it’s a gorgeous book. The color scheme of reds, blues, and blacks is appropriately grim but also beautiful and mesmerizing. If nothing else in this review swayed you to read this graphic novel, at least page through a copy merely to appreciate the art.