Publisher: First Second Books
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Zoe isn't exactly the intellectual type, which is why she doesn't recognize world-famous author Thomas Rocher when she stumbles into his apartment...and into his life. It's also why she doesn't know that Rocher is supposed to be dead. Turns out, Rocher faked his death years ago to escape his critics, and has been making a killing releasing his new work as "lost manuscripts," in cahoots with his editor/ex-wife Agathe. Neither of them would have invited a crass party girl like Zoe into their literary conspiracy of two, but now that she's there anyway. . . . Zoe doesn't know Balzac from Batman, but she's going to have to wise up fast... because she's sitting on the literary scandal of the century!Disclaimer: I received a copy for review from the publisher. This doesn't affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this.
As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I wanted to read it. It sounded right up my alley, and the illustrations seemed fantastic. I was so excited when I received it that I went and finished the book in one sitting. Unfortunately, the book didn't live up to my expectations.
The one thing I truly loved about the book was the illustrations and the coloring. It was so interesting to see how the color schemes and just the colors used in general throughout the book. I noticed shifts in color/color scheme as things/people changed in the story, and it was really clever and helped to facilitate the story. Though very different, it reminded me of when I was reading This One Summer: like the illustrations were really what kept me from being completely disappointed in the graphic novel.
That's not to say the novel didn't start out strong. I found it to be a really interesting way to begin, and it was a great snapshot look into Zoe's life. It was infuriating to see how people were treating Zoe, but it was infuriating in a good way because it meant I was connecting to her and to the story. And I loved how there was so much body positivity. I feel like Zoe learned to embrace her body and her sexuality, and even though I hated the reason behind it, it was nice to see that. It means there's some really, really, really mild adult content, but I wasn't bothered by it (besides that I saw the relationship as an unhealthy relationship).
But I feel like the plot began to fall apart soon after the beginning. Not only was pacing strange (I felt like the ending occurred too quickly, as did the Rocher reveal), but the whole thing just felt rushed and strange, and I didn't really get a sense of the character development and growth. Zoe turned into a different person, in my opinion not for the better, but I never truly got a sense as to why. Her relationship with Rocher bothered me to no end because it was so unhealthy, and it was so obvious he was using her for his writing. And then she turned into the jealous girlfriend type, which I could understand, but she seemed so needy, as if she wasn't anyone without Rocher. Then, once she learned the truth, her relationship with Agathe changed, and she once again took control of her own life.
THEN THE ENDING. Gahhh!!! I wanted to tear my hair out when I read it. Not only was the relationship at the end sudden and seemingly unfounded, but it also seemed to go against what Zoe had experienced throughout the rest of the book. She was hurt by how Rocher manipulated and used her. She was angry that he had lied. She was rightfully furious that he was tricking so many people in such a way just to get money and quick fame. And then she went and did almost the same thing. She stole from him, she took credit for what she never did, she took on a fake identity, she ran away, she lied and manipulated people. It isn't okay, even after all she'd been through! It just wasn't the kind of ending I was hoping for, even though the women got their revenge on Rocher. I just remember finishing the book, closing it, and going "wow...."
I'm still not completely sure how I feel about the book. On the one hand, I like that Zoe took charge of her life and made it better for herself, but at the same time, I didn't feel like I understood or was seeing the complete journey. I didn't see the change and transformation. Everything seemed to happen so quickly. I can definitely say that my favorite aspect of Exquisite Corpse was the illustrations and color. I particularly loved the use of color to show change, as well as the images of Paris.