V for Vendetta (by Alan Moore & David Lloyd) = 4/5

V for Vendetta is a graphic novel set in a bleak near-future (to late 1980s) totalitarian British society that features extensive propaganda, ubiquitous surveillance, pervasive public corruption, no art or “culture”, no non-whites or LGBTQ+ people, and concentration camps. It is not a happy world. It is not a free world.

The narrative initially follows the story of Evey Hammond, a girl who is saved by a mysterious, very strange man who wears a Guy Fawkes mask and calls himself V. Evey serves as a stand-in for the reader, trying to puzzle out who V is and what his motivations are, gradually becoming more and more invested in his cause and the new future he wants to establish. The narrative also follows smaller plot arcs centered on political leaders and other citizens who are either targeted by or affected by V’s vendetta.

I would recommend V for Vendetta to anyone looking for a dark, fast-paced, character-driven dystopia. I was surprised by how quickly I found myself engrossed in the story and had trouble putting it down. The story is well-executed and, while there is certainly a hint of late 1980s to minor pop culture references and some of the fashion, it withstands the test of time and doesn’t feel dated. I have seen the film adaptation a few times before, and the entire time I read the graphic novel, I found myself mentally reading V’s dialogue in Hugo Weaving’s voice. Though different in some instances, the film adaptation overall doesn’t stray as far as I thought it would from the graphic novel, so I wasn’t confused or distracted by preconceptions.

TL;DR: V for Vendetta is a tale of vengeance and woe set in a dystopian London, and it explores the factors that enable the rise and perpetuation of fascism while highlighting the need for everyday citizens to ask “why?” and challenge injustices.

Edit: Apparently, I’ve been spelling “Guy Fawkes” wrong in my head for a long time.

Review originally written 24 August 2017

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