By Laramie Martinez
I’ve always liked library stories. Possibly because I spent most of my youth in them or maybe because, when you combine them with fantastic elements, they end up becoming dungeon crawls. One Week in the Library, however, is a different sort of crawl. While most library stories focus on the library itself or on the quest to find a certain item, this book tells the story of the librarian. This focus shift from archive to the archivist is an interesting take on an old trope. It doesn’t abandon the fantastic elements completely, there are still tidal waves, wild beasts, and strange characters, but in this story these encounters are just responsibilities in a job description. The true heart of this book is in the small details these events reveal about our protagonist.
The book’s format is fairly simple. We follow Allen, the librarian, as he makes his rounds through a library that contains every story ever told. For each day of the week, we receive a different short story. Sometimes they are bits from books he picks up. Other times, they are the experiences he has as he does his job. But while these small stories are entertaining, the meat of the plot lies in the overarching narrative. Each day we receive a little more information about Allen, we learn who he believes himself to be and what he thinks of his role in life. This is where the book excels. Allen is a relatable character whose thoughts mirror those of anyone who is questioning why it is they have become this person they see in the mirror. Throughout the week, we focus more and more on Allen, until we reach the last day. The only thing I’m going to say about the ending of the book is this: I’ve read it once and I’m not sure if I like it or dislike it, but I have a feeling after a few more reads I will have very strong opinions about it. So in terms of endings, you have one guarantee at least, it will leave an impact.
John Amor’s art in this book is perfect. Surreal, warm, and dramatic, he juxtaposes Allen’s strange chores against a tidy backdrop. There is a good deal of subtle horror in this book as well, not enough to make it a horror book but definitely enough to give some teeth to the art. Through his art Amor makes you feel as though the story really could go anywhere, his style brims with potential.
There are other art styles in here besides panels and splash pages. Charts and illustrations also make an appearance. Both are done with the same level of passion as the traditional comic art and they give this story an extra boost. As I’ve said in earlier reviews, I don’t tend to like mixing media in comics, but in this instance, I think it serves the book well.
I liked this book. I liked the direction it took and I’m still thinking about it a week after I read it. I will read it again and I’ll probably have a new opinion about it by the time I finish it a second time. The only reason I’m not giving it five stars is because this book isn’t for everyone. This book is for a certain person looking for something a bit more literary in their comic book. If that describes you or even if you think there is a chance it could describe you, check this one out.
One Week in the Library
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: John Amor
Colorist: Kathryn Layno