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Daybreak

by King on January 30, 2015

Daybreak Main Image
Writer/Artist: Brian Ralph
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
 
Zombies are something I have to admit I’m not too keen on; I mean, I watched a couple seasons of “The Walking Dead” and maybe played a few of the “Resident Evil” games, but I feel that at some point they just became overhyped and too “faddy” for me. “House of the Dead” and “Shaun of the Dead” are still some of my favorite childhood/high school memories though. In any case I’ve fallen out of love with zombies of the years, so picking up a copy of “Daybreak” from my library inevitably led to my leaving it on my shelf for about of month prior to actually giving it a go. Being as utterly unfamiliar with Brian Ralph (as well as most publishers outside of the Marvel/Image/DC circles) as I was didn’t help matters much either. Anyways, I read the book eventually and it was awesome. Let’s dig in.
 
            Marketed as an “arthouse” book (what?), Daybreak puts a very unusual spin on the seemingly worn out post-apocalyptic survival genre: it’s told entirely in first-person. And to boot, our protagonist doesn’t say a single word; at least, to the reader. He/she very well could have been communicating verbally with the few characters comprising the story’s obscure cast, but no one can be sure. There’s a strange beauty to this because it allows for further immersion into the story itself, and I found myself honestly melding with the fictional “hero” in my trying to imagine how he/she could have been handling the exchanges on his/her end. It’s a refreshing experience to be sure, and despite the brevity of the read still lingers with you as you try to imagine what other tales would look like from the same perspective; for me, at least.
 
            The story starts in media res; it’s pretty clear that whatever happened has already happened, and that this is a tale more tailored towards character interactions, perceived dialogue, and survival rather than the nature of what actually brought about the post-apocalyptic wasteland we find ourselves in. This ultimately results in a graver atmosphere as we see a shift in what would lead you believe is a “man v. zombie” tale to a “man v. circumstance” tale; everyone’s just trying to survive and has their own agendas, all of which create varying degrees of dynamism for how our lead interacts with the world, and others in it.
 
Admittedly I had little to no expectations delving into Daybreak as a collected edition, other than some random Amazon reviews I rifled through. In fact, I forgot it was even about zombies by the time I started reading, but it actually made the experience all the better. That being said: yes, it is a short read, but a worthwhile one. The story is quickly paced, to the point, yet still leaves you to dwell on certain outcomes and interactions and how they could’ve gone differently. It removes the overt air of outright “human maliciousness” that many titles seem to try to incorporate in the wake of a human apocalypse and replaces it instead with interactions that are straightforward and more realistic because of it. This story pulls no punches, and has been one of my most enjoyable reads to date. 

Our Score:

10/10

A Look Inside

Comments

stephengervais's picture
Glad to see you discovering Drawn and Quarterly Andrew! They publish so many amazing books! I haven't read this one yet but after reading your review I just ordered it!