March 5, 2014 at 12:44 pm (Reads) (, , )

Snowpiercer Vol 1Snowpiercer: The Escape by Jacques Lob & Jean-Marc Rochette and Snowpiercer: The Explorers by Benjamin Legrand & Jean-Marc Rochette


Upon first hearing about Snowpiercer, I knew it was something I wanted to read.  Not only was the premise interesting — a 101-car-long train that travels nonstop around a desolate, snow-ruined Earth after an attempt to correct climate change goes horribly wrong — but there were also some thematic elements that piqued my interest.  The train itself has its own social structure, from the elite who live near the front of the train, all the way back to the poorest and most desperate people who live near the back.  The story is about someone from the back who manages to make it all the way to the front, and what happens along the way.  Of course I was interested, and of course I picked up both volumes in the series so I wouldn’t miss anything.

I’ve since discovered that the two volumes were published decades apart, and were written by two different people.  The first was the original, and the second was a collection of two additional stories written about the train, but by a different author (the original author had died by then).  They complement each other well, though the two stories have a very different feel.  The Escape, the first story, feels very rushed and hurried, with little attention paid to the characters who populate the story.  Given that the story is so much about the characters, I was expecting more time spent on those characters.  I pushed my concerns aside, though, thinking that the second volume would delve more into the history behind the characters and maybe flesh out the story more.  But The Explorers, the second story, is about a future generation of people on the train, and is, amazingly, about a different train.  That was a surprise to me, but it was handled and explained well.

Snowpiercer The Escape

The Explorers also spent more time with the characters, and felt less rushed than the original story.  The two stories compiled in the second volume comprised a longer story than The Escape, which I’m sure made a difference, but I didn’t feel like the story was moving faster than necessary, as I did with the first one.  Save for the abrupt ending (which, honestly, makes me think that there’s another collection somewhere on the horizon), the story felt more organic and natural.  Thematically, the story was similar but distinct, as it highlighted the trials the passengers had to suffer at the hands of those in power, who were as corrupt as they could be in such an enclosed space.  The stories seem to be set decades apart, as they were published, and it works pretty well together.

The big buzz surrounding this series is about the movie that was recently made based on the story, and I have to say, I’m very interested in seeing it.  It was released in South Korea, and rumor has it that the US release of the movie will cut a significant portion out, meaning that what we’ll see won’t be the original vision.  I also don’t know if it was based strictly on Lob’s original story about the train (and if so, I hope the pacing changes), or if it will comprise both volumes.  I think both volumes tell a larger tale, since stopping with just the first volume will leave too many questions unanswered, but then again, there are two distinct stories being told here.  So I’m at a bit of a loss.  I’m still interested in seeing the movie, just to see how the director paced out the events in the story.  What was rushed in the graphic novel might be better presented in the movie.

Regardless, I think folks who enjoy the idea of the premise and theme will find a lot to like in these two collections.  They’re dystopian and bleak, but very much worth the read, even if they aren’t perfect.


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