When I was first approached by Ravi Thornton to review her graphic novel Hoax, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I’d never read a graphic novel before and was (and still am!) a novice in reviewing! However, after reading the first few chapters of Hoax, I knew that it was something special.
Hoax tells the tragic story of Rob, a young man living with schizophrenia, through the novel and the beautiful artwork that accompanies it. I think that in many ways the artwork and illustrations spoke more to me than the words, as they gave incredible visualisations of something that affected Rob, and those around him, so deeply. The different sections of artwork that are shown after each chapter are all stunningly beautiful in their own way and completely different from each other, with many incorporating the words, lyrics, poetry into the images.
I think that having different illustrators for each section works amazingly well, as they can interpret the words themselves and create something that people may or may not be able to relate to. As a mental health sufferer, I know the extreme range of emotions that you can feel, and I also know that no mental health experience is the same to another persons. Hoax shows this through the diverse and often surreal artwork, and of the nine sections I can imagine that any mental health sufferer can relate to at least one of them in some small way. For me it was Detainment.
Preceding each of the art sections, in a comprehendible comic strip style, is a chapter representing a year of Rob’s story. It provides a base in the novel, a way of keeping in touch with the stark reality of Rob’s situation and how it affects himself and those around him by seeing his journey, witnessing his ups and downs and his eventual fate. The illustrations offer an otherworldly, symbolic representation of Rob’s feelings and emotions, but the chapters keep us involved with Rob and his journey in mental illness.
Despite the beauty and uniqueness of the novel, tragically, Rob did commit suicide. This is shown tactfully in the novel, with a final meeting with his sister, and the idea of being free and finally experiencing joy. My only worry is that some would consider it as ‘glamorising suicide’, but to this I would say that no, it does not. That would be a gross misinterpretation, as people can still find the joy and liberty that Rob found in death, in life, even from the deepest depression. Hey, I’m living proof. It’s just found differently for different people. And anyway, Hoax shows a man’s journey that didn’t end in suicide. Ravi has honoured her brother’s memory and kept his journey going with Hoax, and that journey doesn’t look as though it’s going to be ending anytime soon.
So if you do read Hoax, (which you should), just remember that you are not alone in any struggles that you might have. Rob’s story shows you this, as there is always someone there for you and someone who has experienced mental health problems too, no matter what problem it might be. Rob had his sister, Ravi, who supported him during his life and has carried out his dreams after his death, and there will be someone for you. Let Rob’s story inspire you to find that person and let them help you, and maybe you’ll be able to help them in the process.
Ravi’s website: http://ravithornton.com
Preoder the book here: http://www.ziggyswish.com
Ravi’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writer.ravithornton
Ravi’s twitter: https://twitter.com/ravithornton
[Read the original review on Eliza's Wordpress page.]