City of Stones

This past week I was lucky enough to discover Jason Lutes’ Berlin; City of Stones, the first book in a graphic novel series, at my local library. It tells interconnected stories of Berlin before the second world war. It’s an extraordinary work of historical fiction, and doubly important in a medium that too often does not receive attention for its wonderful serious works.
The book follows the lives of many people, each in a human and realistic manner that is very immersive and insightful. The relationships, especially those between the two main characters, showed a intricacy and emotion that I’ve seen rarely in graphic novels. It was certainly heartening to see such a realistic protrayal of characters.
I must admit that I know too little about the pre-war history of Germany, but I was very impressed with the exploration of of the political factions which were in conflict in the nation during the late 1920’s and 1930’s. The national socialist, communist and other groups were shown as realistic people, often fueled by propaganda and blind trust in parties and ideologies. The protrayal of the communists as non-polar on a scale of good and evil seemed a fair protrayal to me, and the displays of both harm and good were subtle and well crafted.
City of Stones is an exciting work of literature and graphic storytelling. Not only does it stand as one of the most exciting works of historical fiction in this decade, but also provides certain proof of the relevance and importance of graphic novels as entertainment, art and education at once. I can not recommend it enough.

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