05 June 2010

Book Review: Animal Farm, Fables

Title:  Fables: Animal Farm
Author:  Bill Willingham
Illustrators: Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Graphic Novels Challenge, Once Upon a Time, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
Driven from the homelands by a powerful adversary - who is wonderfully referred to as "The Adversary" - fairy tale creatures (calling themselves Fables) of all shapes and sizes have settled in New York.  But there is a divide.  Non-human fables are hidden in a farm upstate, and their isolation and virtual imprisonment has provided fertile grounds for revolutionary ideas.  When Snow White and Rose Red stumble upon a secret meeting, the revolution begins.

My Thoughts
Golding's Lord of the Flies meets Welles' Animal Farm. Sort of.  I mean if they had fairy tale characters and serious weaponry.  Thematically and plotmatically (use this word!), Animal Farm relates well to these classic stories, but it is more than just an off-hand reference.  I was struck by the literary references within the story.  I adore allusions to other works - well, I adore them when I catch them.  When I miss them and find out about them later, I feel pangs of intellectual jealousy.  The allusions aren't mysterious in this volume.  The title itself is a dead giveaway, and then a certain event which shall not be named takes place, clearly referring to another work of literature.

Outside of allusions, this volume in the Fables series has a lot to recommend it.  The plot lines and characters are unique and surprising.  Willingham cleverly weaves his world, allowing the reader to enter into it rather than reading descriptions of it.  New characters appear as the story calls for it with no unnecessary introduction, and backstory is revealed through the present tense plot.

In my review of the first in the series, I gushed like a fangirl, and I have to say that I still am feeling that urge.  I have the next three in the series sitting on my shelves, waiting to be read.

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

Sophisticated Dorkiness; Avid Book Reader; Fyrefly's Book Blog; things mean a lot; Bibliofreakblog;

Question:  Is it better to read a series back to back or have a bit  of time in between each installment?


  1. I have to laugh at your comment about intellectual jealousy. I get that. Generally, I don't think I am sharp enough to catch subtle, or not so subtle, allusions and symbolism and stuff. I'm more of a "hit me over the head" kinda girl. Also, to answer your question, if I have my druthers, I would always read a series back-to-back, but time and commitments don't always allow. If I wait, I always feel like I lose momentum.

  2. *joins you in gushing* Such a brilliant series.

    As for how to read them, I guess it depends on the series - sometimes it's good to remember the plot of the previous instalments clearly. But the downside of the back-to-back method is that it's over too fast! And that's especially sad with something as awesome and addictive as Fables.

  3. These do look like fun, like something good to get into over the summer. I'll see if my library has any.

  4. I love Fables. I haven't read them in such a long time though, maybe summer is the time to catch up.

    I miss literary references all the time, then friends get them and make fun of me because I was the English major and I'm "supposed" to get them :)

  5. Sandy - I rarely envy someone with the perfect body, skin, or hair; I'll have a sort of longing for those things, but it's intellectualism that I envy like a deadly sin.

    Ana - I tend to binge and read a whole series right away. But you are so right when you say the problem is that it's over too soon. I do this with books and tv shows, and then I'm sad when it's over.

    C.B. - You should! I'm really enjoying this series. It's so unique.

    Kim - Hahaha! I can't tell you how many times I hear "but you're an English professor...shouldn't you have caught that". It always makes me wince.

  6. I started this one a while ago but I've sort of set it aside. Looks like I need to pick it back up!

  7. Definitely one of my favorite GN series. Thanks for reminding me I need to track down the third book--I gave up before when the library didn't have it.

  8. So far March of the Wooden Soldiers has been my favorite, which, I think, is book four. I'm actually finding I have to limit myself to reading and blogging about these because otherwise my blog will become all about Fables.

  9. Judging from the cover, I'd love the artwork in this series. Would it be a good pick for an 11-year-old?

    I've been encouraging my son to get into more graphic novels. I recently bought him the first few graphic novels in the Dresden Files series. I cringed when I realized (too late) how much sex and violence was in them, but he seems O.K. with it.

    As a pre-adolescent boy, he just tunes out the sex. His philosophy: "Girls are O.K. as friends -- they're just like guys, really." I'll enjoy that while it lasts. ;-) And the violence -- well, he's a boy -- he likes action. And I've learned to deal with that. :-P

  10. Jenny - I tried to give myself some time between 1 and 2, but I think 3's getting read very soon.

    Cass - My library didn't have them either, so I decided to beg for the first five for my birthday. My wonderful mother obliged.

    J.T. - Hahaha! I didn't think about that but if you did continue reading them back to back or with just a book or two in between, the blog would definitely become rather Fables-centric.

    Stephanie - My immediate thought was yes, but I'm pretty liberal when it comes to children. Sex and violence are definitely a part of Fables. More violence than sex from what I can remember, but I do think I saw breasts at one point...I think. I'm so terrible at picking up on stuff like this as I never read it with anyone young in mind. :)

  11. Breasts?!? *gasp* :-P

    Well, as you've probably guessed, I'm pretty liberal when it comes to children too. I'm sure I may buy this and preview it.

  12. Stephanie - We sound a lot alike when it comes to kids. I think you should give it a try as it is so unique. Plus it has a lot to offer in the way of education. Folklore and fables, literary allusions, sophisticated themes, etc.


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