A Quick Review Of Victor LaValle’s Destroyer

The legacy of Frankenstein’s monster collides with the sociopolitical tensions of the present-day United States.

There is something mesmerizing in a retelling that captures the essences of an original property while elevating it to the modern zeitgeist. Victor LaValle’s Destroyer, a graphic novel written in collaboration with illustrator Dietrich Smith, is such a piece.

Following Dr. barker, a brilliant scientist propelled forward by the loss of her son Akai to police violence, Destroyer is an examination of the grief that white supremacy creates, and the turmoil that is in turn born from that grief. It is, when applied, a force to be reckoned with, and when left to fester it is unpredictable and destructive—but rarely is the harm ever truly healed or the source eliminated. Through the lens of Frankenstein, Destroyer unmakes the original Frankenstein mythos and reevaluates it in a way that makes creation stem less from individual hubris and something more akin to desperation. When everything that Dr. Barker loves is dismantled, she takes it in her own hands to rebuild, reclaim, and ultimately repurpose her suffering.

Watching Dr. Barker’s descent into her grief (because I can’t justifiably call her reaction to her son’s death madness) felt almost indecently voyeuristic, which could be a commentary in and of itself about how we treat Black trauma. While Dr. Barker is not a hero, neither is she the villain. She, like so many, are the product of a violent system. And whether or not you agree with how she reacted to that system, it’s hard to say that her reaction was wrong.

The depth of Destroyer is potentially underpinned by the length of the series, which is six issues (or the chapters that make up the full bind up of the graphic novel.) This could have been mitigated by the exclusion of Frankenstein’s original monster ever appearing on page; Dr. Barker’s story and its reflection on anti-Blackness in America certainly could have carried those pages.

The Epilogue

The world is, as always, a tumultuous place. While we escape into books in our downtime, we should always be mindful of what’s going on in our uptime. Nigeria has been going through a multi-decade crisis with SARS, a special police force that abuses its power by terrorizing the people of Nigeria. Being based in America, it’s imperative that we not ignore global police-based injustices, especially ones born from colonialism and imperialism that ours and other governments have been a part of. Below I have links where you can learn more, find information on donations, and additional sources from those living in Nigeria.

End SARS Carrd
Contextual Primer on the Youth-led Anti-Police Movement in Nigeria
Nigerians to Keep up #EndSars Pressure
Young People are Using Social Media to Drive Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality
End SARS Talk with the Black Prose Book Club and Noria from Chronicles of Noria

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Across the Stars and Back Again | A Review of Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin

Are you not magnificent? Or you will be, one day. But first, you must earn your beauty.

N.K. Jemisin’s entry into the Forward Series—a series of short stories featuring noted SFF authors—is, in a word, masterful, seeking to answer the titillating question of what would happen if Earth got to the point that it was truly uninhabitable? If, in a last-ditch effort to save humanity, the elite, the best, left, taking themselves to the stars to start anew?

This premise is not one that is new in speculative fiction. It is not even outside the realm of reality, when we have men like Elon Musk existing in our timeline, and the notion of colonizing nearby planets like Mars isn’t entirely novel. Space is, after all, the final frontier, and humanity is ever seeking to expand beyond the natural boundaries given to it.

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A Dash of Salt | The Illuminae Files

A good series is the fine wine of the book world. With each new entry, it ages boldly, elates the spirit, makes you crave more and more until you’re drunk on the quality of what you’ve read.

I would like to say that the Illuminae Files was that—a perfectly aged wine that hit where it needed to and left sweetness behind in its wake. Unfortunately, what I expected to be a bottle opened only once a century turned out to be something that I could get in a box on the bottom shelf of my local gas station any day of the week.

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Reading Log | Reading Your Best Friend’s Book

Somehow, sneaking back into prison is always harder than sneaking out of it.

The reasonable part of me knows it’s because everyone’s asleep when I sneak out at night, and that by the time I return in the early morning, the dreary gray building is already starting to wake. But the cynical part of me thinks it has more to do with how the guards would be only too happy to get rid of me and all too reluctant to take me in.

A Soldier and a Liar; Caitlin Lochner

This Book Made Me Feel Things

There’s something nostalgic in opening a book you read years ago to read it all over again with fresh eyes and a changed mind—and something incredibly satisfying in getting to know that book a second time over after years of nurturing, coaxing, and loving hands working it over.

I didn’t expect to be so emotional when I finally got my preorder delivery of A Soldier and a Liar, and that was a serious oversight on my part. I read the first lines, overcome with the feeling of finality. A book that I had read in high school—a paperback, if I remember correctly, back when it was still titled This Is How We Fall Apart—was now a sleek hardback with blurbs on the back and my friend’s name on the front.

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ARC Review | A Deep Dive into Deep Cosmos

However, it seemed like, through all the scattered words, he simply wanted to know who she was and reassure her that she was safe. She felt that this was very sweet of him, even if his methods of expressing it were primitive at best.


Deep Cosmos, Project Kyle

The Run-Down

Deep Cosmos is a science fiction novel written by Project Kyle that explores trauma, friendship, and the growth that can happen when the two collide in the middle of deep space. When Nerd, an operative of the not-so-secret organization known as Deep Cosmos, saves Sophia, a warrior, from his nemesis Doctor Crimson, the pair are immediately thrown into a race to save a universe full of problems. From rouge mercs, to mad scientists, space is far from a peaceful final frontier for Sophia and Nerd. We follow them through daring escapes, intergalactic plagues, and tumultuous pasts that seek to catch up with them at every turn.

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