Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

Robot Dreams--Sara Varon
August 2007 by First Second
208 pages--Goodreads

Richly endearing and full of surprises, Robot Dreams follows an ill-fated friendship between a dog and robot. After a Labor Day jaunt to the beach leaves Robot rusty and immobilized in the sand, Dog, unsure what to do, abandons him. As the seasons pass, Dog tries to replace his friend, making and losing a series of new ones, from a melting snowman to epicurean anteaters. Meanwhile, Robot passes his time daydreaming, escaping to better places...Through interwoven journeys, the two characters long to recover from their day at the beach.

Although its adorable characters and playful charm will win over young readers, Robot Dreams speaks universally to the fragile nature of friendship, loss, and redemption.

This was my first experience with an almost wordless graphic novel.  There is more text on the inside jacket flap than in the rest of the book.  I like that simplicity with the storytelling being carried by the illustrations alone.  Several times throughout the book, there is only one panel on an otherwise blank page spread.  The illustrations are simple, but carry a lot meaning and emotion, matching the thoughtful tone of the narrative.

Several other reviewers talked about the poignant tone capturing that feeling of drifting apart from an old friend.  Friends don't last forever so cherish them while you have them and similar themes.  But what I got out it, at least for the first half, is some people are jerks and leave you to rot in the sand. Or steal your foot.  I did enjoy the robot's dream sequences and the end of the novel, and I see the "moving on to new friends" and "you can never go back" stuff.  It just wasn't quite what I was expecting.

It's a super quick read with a bittersweet ending and on the whole I liked it.

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