Date Completed: 6/29/16
The Eternal Smile is a collection of three short graphic novels. Each is drawn in a very different style, and each has a twist that thoroughly surprised me and made me think about what I want from life.
The first is the story of a guy on a quest to win the princesses hand in marriage through slaughtering the frog king. I loved loved loved the art of this one, it almost had a comic book feeling without being as chaotic and scattered as comic books are. The varying color schemes served the mood well. And the twist came totally unexpected! Excellent through and through.
The second story was cartoonish and the main characters are frogs. Granpa Greenbax decides to start a religion based on the “eternal smile” as a scheme to make $$$. However, he too finds himself a wrinkle in the plot and the choice he makes was not at all what I was expecting. I liked this story much better after the plot twist than before.
The third and final story is the story of an office worker. She lives a boring life and doesn’t seem to often ask for want she wants, nor does she often get what she wants. So when a random email comes through for her, the reader already knows it won’t end well, but we admire her for her hope. Because so much is out in the open with this story, even the drawings are softer and less mysterious, the plot twist is less of a surprise about trajectory of he plot and more a twist on the protagonist’s reaction to reality.
I recommend this book. It was a fast read with beautiful drawings and intriguing plots that you can dive right into to be immersed for a short while. My only complaint is that they are short stories and prefer long, but the stories really felt like the perfect length for the ideas that were being presented.
Gene Lien Yang is the author of American Born Chinese. Derek Kirk Kim is the author of Same Difference and Other Stories.