Wednesday 22 April 2009

As the World Burns by Derrick Jensen. Illustrated by Stephanie McMillan

Published by Seven Stories Press
Distributed by Raincoast Books

As the World Burns covers the subjects of global warming, over consumption, animal testing, and other environmental issues that we hear about in our everyday lives. 'We meet two young girls who are concerned with preventing the end of the world, but unsure of how to do so. All the information shared in the many 'quick-fix' guides doesn’t seem to be enough. Meanwhile, the US government has worked out a deal with aliens from outer space and has granted them permits to eat the entire country in exchange for gold - gold that the aliens consider worthless. While the corporations are up in arms over the loss of resources/profits, a solitary one-eyed bunny breaks into a research laboratory in an attempt to rescue the animals within. Chaos runs rampant as many lives come together in an attempt to save the planet.

I love environmental books and graphic novels so I was pretty certain I was going to be on to a winner with this title. I didn't like it as much as I had hoped. I believe it contains strong - and important - messages that our world is in trouble and many of the 'band-aid' solutions are not making as much of a difference as we would like. I believe it is informative in some aspects and I definitely like the 'back-to-nature' theme that occurs at times. That said, I didn't like the violence, I didn't care much for the politics, or the feelings of anger it rouses in the reader but it gets the message across and I do always say that it's a well written book that can provoke emotion in a reader.

I liked the illustration a great deal. Graphic Novels always seem to have such unique styles of artwork and this is no exception though I do wish it had been released here in colour as it is going to be in France. One thing I didn't like about it was that the corporations, president etc were all designed to look like villains, sharp monstrous pointy teeth and all. While I am in agreement that companies have a great deal to answer to, and that priorities need to be changed, I don't think it's fair to present them in such a negative way. Most especially when the environmentalists are usually depicted as cute little girls and tortured animals. I am a firm believer in balance and this book struck me as very one-sided in many aspects and honestly comes off as a personal rant designed strictly to enrage the reader.

Whether you love this book or hate it, one thing is for certain. It will definitely provide much food for thought and while I may not agree with the somewhat violent message, it's always a great thing to see someone else speaking out about the state of this planet.

You can learn more about the author at: and the illustrator at:


Anonymous said...

"Balance" presumes that every position is equally justifiable; but they're not. People who are knowingly and unrepentingly devouring the world for short-term profit can rightfully be called "villains," by most people's definition of the word. I would not call that an unfair characterization.

You mentioned not liking the violence. Which specific violence did you dislike? The war-to-save-the-planet violence? The violence in the portrayals of vivisection? All violence is not the same.

Charlene Martel said...

Sorry that I didn't get to this before now. We had a major life change to deal with.

Regarding your post Anonymous, I enjoyed reading your point of view. I understand your reasoning but I stand by my opinion, that though many companies are environmentally irresponsible, not all are. I have never been fond of generalizations though.

As for the violence. I don't care for violence in any form, regardless of justification. Do I agree with animal testing? Heck no, nor will I ever. I have a house full of rescue animals and it's heartbreaking to see what some companies do, in the name of profit. I don't believe violence is the answer though, to any issue.

I do like that the book carries a strong message, along with provoking a great deal of thought and debate and I am always happy to see new comments on a post! Thank you for taking the time to share.