The Boat by Nam Le, SBS, and Matt Huynh
Published by Alfred A. Knopf on May 13th, 2008
Genres: Graphic Novel, Short Stories
“She whispered into the darkness, her thoughts still interlaced with dream, scattered remotely across space and grey sea.”
In case you missed it, I’m participating in the #AsianReadathon this month! Reading The Boat satisfied the first challenge: Read any book by an Asian author.
Matt Huynh adapted one of the short stories from Nam Le’s The Boat into a interactive graphic novel. It focuses on the final story in the book about a fishing trawler crowded with refugees, where a young woman’s bond with a mother and her young son forces both women to a make a shattering decision.
May is already off to a great start for reading! I highly recommend that everybody read this. I couldn’t get my hands on the book, but I’m really happy that I got to read the interactive web comic instead.
In fact, I’m pretty sure if I had read this in the traditional format, I would’ve given the book a 3 bubble tea rating. But because of the production quality, art direction, and sound design, this immediately shot up to a 5 bubble tea rating.
You can tell that while it’s a 20 minute interactive experience, a lot of time and care went into every decision. And it paid off because I can’t stop thinking about the story!
There are so many little details that managed to elevate the story. I love how the music and sound effects create a claustrophobic atmosphere, much like the one on the suffocating boat ride. The panels and text that would tilt around the screen to mimic the boat rocking was another great added detail.
All of these nuances made the story more visceral and immersive.
I immediately connected to the characters and story despite there being next to no historical context. I can definitely see how that would lower the rating down for people, but I didn’t mind it at all.
Despite it being a quick read, it’s a very sobering story. It’s a painful look at the sacrifices made to survive. I can’t rave enough about this web comic. I hope you take some time out of your day to experience it. You won’t regret it.