Sunday, 1 July 2012

Graphic Novel Review: 'The Night Bookmobile' by Audrey Niffenegger

The Night Bookmobile
by Audrey Niffenegger

Published: October 7th, 2010
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Format: Graphic Novel/Hardback
Pages: 40


I love the cover of 'The Night Bookmobile'. I don't think anyone who loves books could not enjoy a cover like this. BOOKS. ON SHELVES. Oh yii.

I really like the art inside the book. It does have quite a childlike feel but you can also tell that it is not a children's book. There is an artiness about the pictures, especially the faces of the characters, that felt more grown up. I liked how colourful and bold the designs were too.

Plot Synopsis

The Night Bookmobile tells the story of a wistful woman who one night encounters a mysterious disappearing library on wheels that contains every book she has ever read. Seeing her history and most intimate self in this library, she embarks on a search for the bookmobile. But her search turns into an obsession, as she longs to be reunited with her own collection and memories.

My Rating:
Pocket-Size Review
This book is an odd one to try and categorise, but I loved it. I thought it was wistful, whimsical and slightly sinister which are all elements I love to see in books! Quirky and a little left field= I am happy.

Highs: The story, the art, the sinister edge to the narrative.
Lows: I think it might have been better as a longer book- you don't get your money's worth!

First thing to get out of the way before reviewing a Niffenegger book that is not 'The Time Traveller's Wife' is just to say- I LOVED THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE. I really loved it. Really really. However, I didn't have high expectations for this one, as a quick glance at Goodreads told me that it had received a rather lukewarm reception. I went in determined to be open minded. And I was rewarded with a whole lot of love extending from my aorta towards this book.

This book is very up my street. I have a rather pretentious taste in books that are unusual and literary and have hidden depths. This book has all those things, plus a very melancholy undertone that I think will appeal to people who have a really intense loves of books and literature. Isn't there something strangely sad about a place which houses every single thing you've ever read? The Night Bookmobile is a magical, melancholy camper van that stores every single thing you have ever read in your life. I thought Niffenegger's notes about the book at the end explained perfectly how I felt about this book, and go some way towards explaining the idea behind the story:
When I began writing 'The Night Bookmobile', it was a story about a woman's secret life as a reader. As I worked it also became a story about the claims that books place on their readers, the imbalance between our inner and outer lives a cautionary tale of the seduction of the written word. It became a vision of the afterlife as a library, of heaven as a funky old camper filled with everything you've ever read. What is this heaven? What is it we desire from the hours, weeks, lifetimes we devote to books? What would you sacrifice to sit in that comfy chair with perfect light for an afternoon in eternity, reading the perfect book, forever?
I really like the vision of the afterlife as a Bookmobile; Niffenegger has imagined a heaven for book-lovers and portrayed the intensity that books can invoke within you, and the worlds you can get lost in, that are so different from the life you actually lead.

Niffenegger also divulges that this book was based on a story by H.G Wells called 'The Door in the Wall' in which a young boy finds a door to a beautiful garden and, after spending an idyllic afternoon there, can never find it again except at times when he cannot enter. Niffenegger has used her own obsession, reading, to fashion her own Heaven/place behind the wall and, ultimately, the darkness behind this obsession, as the ending tells us what she would sacrifice for her vision. 

Overall I loved this book and can't wait to read more in the series. Definitely a book for book lovers, and one that really gets you thinking. If I found MY Night Bookmobile it would take a lot for me to give it up.

Other Thoughts

This Book has Inspired me to Read: 'Three Incestuous Sisters' by Audrey Niffenegger.
Three Words to Describe this Book: Charming, Literary, Melancholy.


  1. Thank you for the review. I had not even heard about this. What a cool bookish book.

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