Reviews

The Coldest City, by Sam Hart, Antony Johnston

sunbathingturtle's review

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slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

2.0

schenderson's review

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5.0

So good. Well done, wonderful illustrations. Sad to see it end.

tyrshand's review

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3.0

I think I’d have liked this one better if I hadn’t seen the movie first. The movie stayed rather faithful to the plot, though it added more and definitely took things farther. The art style on this one worked for the story, except that it was sometimes difficult to tell people apart.

morgandhu's review

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4.0

The Coldest City, a graphic novel by Anthony Johnston, is a complex spy thriller set in Berlin on the verge of the fall of East Germany and the Berlin Wall. It was the inspiration for the recent film Atomic Blonde, which I watched and enjoyed, so I thought I might enjoy the comic as well.

The narrative is in the form of a verbal debriefing of an agent, just returned from a mission in return. All we learn of the present is that an agent named Perceval has died. As the agent being debriefed begins to make her report, it’s easy for the mind to slip between the two framing narratives, to forget this is not a narrative of ongoing events, but of an agent who was involved in those events being debriefed. One can lose sight of the fact that we have an unreliable narrator.

The set-up as given in the agent’s report. which those who have seen the film will recognise, involves a missing list that purports to contain the names of every secret agent in Berlin. It was to be delivered to a British agent by an ‘asset’ codenamed Spyglass, but instead the British agent, James Gascoigne (Ber-2) is dead, his presumed assassin, a Russian agent named Bahktin, is in the wind, and the list is missing. The higher-ups don’t fully trust the lead British Agent in Berlin, David Perceval (Ber-1), so they are sending in someone who’s never worked in Berlin and has no previous connections with Ber-1 or Ber-2 - Lorraine Broughton, who is going in under cover as a lawyer, Gladys Lloyd, arranging for the repatriation of Gascoigne’s body. Her real mission is to find the list.

The visual style of the novel is stark, drawn in black and white, the characters mostly line drawings never fully fleshed out in detail, faces often drawn without any features, or partly or fully blacked in, shadowy figures echoing the unreality of the characters themselves, who are never what they seem and never display everything abut themselves. And in many panels, there are characters in the corners, watching the other characters, sometimes taking up whole panels themselves as they all observe each other. It’s a graphic illustration of a world where nothing can be taken for what it seems to be, and suspicion and surveillance are unspoken, eternal presences.

It is, of course, a complicated story, of agents and double agents and moles and plots, all unfolding against the imminent collapse of the Wall and the inevitable changes in the world of spycraft in Berlin, which will no longer be a place where multiple nations intersect, and people and information move back and forth.

Quite engrossing, a spy story in the classic style, worthy of Len Deighton or John LeCarré.

taylorhudson's review

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4.0

I still love the movie more but I feel like the graphic novel has less plot holes than the movie

velocitygirl14's review

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3.0

A lot of people are saying that this is like a LeCarre novel and that's utterly true. It does feel like a throwback story and it was enjoyable enough, but the movie was actually more appealing than the book.
The art style was too blocky and too static for what was supposed to be a taut thriller. Story is alright although I wish that they hadn't added the foreign language bits without translation.

jensreadinglife's review

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3.0

This was selected for my book club and definitely not something I would normally choose but I enjoyed this graphic spy novel. It was picked because the movie Atomic Blonde was coming out and, I have to say, the movie previews look NOTHING like this book. This is a quiet, subtle thriller (a la LeCarre) not a shoot 'em up action thriller. Also worth noting that I read the Kindle version and I think the paper version would make for an easier read as some of the images were difficult to see in that format.

michaelrohmann's review

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3.0

After watching the film Atomic Blonde and loving it, Charlize Theron playing a boss ass bitch who slays is my jam. I decided to go back and read the source material. Sadly, I did not like it love it as much as the film. The plot was interesting but at times difficult to follow at times, this was due to the art style- the males characters were difficult to distinguish from each other, which lead me to asking "Who is that again?" a couple times. Lorraine was an interesting character who manipulated the male spies around her who estimated her due to the fact that she is a woman to her advantage to achieve her objective. I wish there was a little more action instead of just intrigue, but overall this was an enjoyable read.

kippur's review

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3.0

Picked this up on Comixology after seeing Atomic Blonde, and was expecting a very different story. All the bones are there, but overall, this is one of a very few cases where the movie was better than the book.

paledaughter's review

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3.0

First book completed for The Reading Rush. Now to watch the movie adaptation, Atomic Blonde!