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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Aaron and Ahmed (Hardback)


Author: Jay Cantor
Artist: James Romberger
Titan Books
RRP: £18.99, US $24.99
ISBN: 978 0 85768 244 4
Available 14 July 2011

After his fiancée dies on 9/11, the question "What causes terrorism?" plagues Aaron Goodman. It makes him give up his career as a doctor to become an interrogator at Guantanamo Bay. It leads him to meme theory, as he wonders if there could be a cold science behind the conversion of people into suicide bombers. And ultimately, it brings him to Ahmed, a Gitmo prisoner who promises the answers to all of Aaron's questions, and in the process, he’ll take Aaron from Guantanamo Bay to the jihadist camps in Pakistan, back to Ground Zero in New York City. But where do Ahmed’s real loyalties lie? From where did that loyalty spring? To answer that, Aaron will have to reexamine everything he believes, and stare down one of the most compelling questions of the 21st century...

Aaron and Ahmed is an interesting idea for a story, and a chance to seriously examine why the East despises everything (yes, that also includes Coca-Cola and McDonalds) that America and its allies stand for. Stealing land and countries resources; selling arms to everyone and being there to lend money to a nation to fuel a war that it was probably instrumental in starting in the first place are all valid reasons why intelligent men would strike back in the only way that will make the rest of the world sit up and take notice.

Sadly the question is never really explored as intelligently as you'd hope. Meme theory is introduced which offers a scientific explanation of why sane men would blow themselves to bits. We discover that they are walking time bombs who are programmed to explode when they come into contact with a hidden sign (scattered in objects and places all over the world).

I couldn't help thinking that the gay angle was an afterthought, that the publisher didn't think the story was strong enough as it stood and suggested a sexual relationship between the two main characters in order to silence critics for fear of being homophobic. Personally I found the entire story a little dull and very unfocussed. In places the writing was self-indulgent and very immature. The end result is a rather disappointing jumble of ideas that never really come together.


Nick Smithson

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