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on 14 August 2014
Having had the chance to watch Snowpiercer recently (and having loved it), I decided to return to the source and read the graphic novel it was taken from.

***** SPOILER ALERT *****

In a bleak and desolate future there is a 1001 carriage long train which travels constantly through the frozen wastes of an environmentally destroyed earth. The train itself is a microcosm of the previous world at large. Social and political inequality still thrives with the poor being crammed in the back of the train, living in like sardines in abject squalor; and the rich living a life of luxury and hedonism in the front carriages. The logistics of maintaining social order mean that everyone must keep to 'their place' on the train. No social climbing is allowed and no chance to better yourself. The story centres around Proloff, a man who escapes the tail section and is subsequently placed in quarantine as there is a killer virus amongst the poorest passengers, he is joined by an arrested woman called Adeline who is a campaigner for equal rights, and together they are ushered through the train by the military force towards their fate. As they move through Snowpiercer it is evident that life is very different, and some what decadent, for the more fortunate train dwellers. The poor have been lied to and told that meat, fruit and vegetables have become extinct, yet the privileged dine on them whilst the tail section residents eat processed cockroaches. Drugs and sex are the favourite pass times of the rich, they live without empathy for the poor and seek only pleasure. During their arrest Proloff and Adeline overhear that the tail section is going to be released as the engine is beginning to fail, they try to warn the end carriages, managing successfully, but putting their own lives at greater risk. On the run they eventually they reach the last compartment before the engine and are cornered, Proloff breaks the windows as he and Adeline would rather die than be captured, but he is rescued by the train driver and hauled into the engine compartment. There the driver, Forester, unveils the truth about the train and the last frame is of Proloff alone driving an empty train, all it's inhabitants killed by the virus.

As an idea the story is excellent with sharp observations and chilling predictions on the future of society. There are some horrific moments (especially the cockroaches and meat) and some parts of the novel which drag a bit. As with other reviews I strongly agree that the train does not feel anything like 1001 carriages long and I feel that there was a lost opportunity somewhere in the middle where the tension and horror could have been upped, more detail and characters could have made a richer story.

The artwork is somewhat retro (it is 30 years old) but the black and white starkness of it compliments the story matter. But like the movie Alien, the dated feel it isn't a distraction. A full colour approach would have minimalised the harsh and bleak nature of Snowpiercer and the art does skillfully capture the claustrophobic and hopeless microcosm. The length of the book is somewhat short, which works well in one respect as it was getting a little drawn out; but I do think that if the story had been expanded, with stronger characters, sub plot and more detail regarding the social aspects than it would have benefited from being longer. It's one of those strange books that firstly you think "thank goodness that's over" but you end up wanting to know more. What I did miss was character development though and building relationships between them. Being that it was about the decline of humanity, it would have been a richer story if a greater human element hand been added, I never quite got attached to any of the protagonists and at the end of the book really didn't bother what happened to them. In hindsight I wonder if any of the dialogue and story was lost in translation, as the book is originally French. Very often, especially in foreign films, a beautiful piece of dialogue is butchered by insensitive translation. Having said that though I did enjoy the novel and would possibly read it again.

If you have arrived here via the movie adaptation I should warn you that the book is quite different. The movie took the bones and rounded it out with muscle and heart, the story is more explosive too with a more dramatic but hopeful ending.

All in all I enjoyed the graphic novel but wished I had read it before seeing the movie as I was a little dissapointed. It is however a fascinating premise that makes you consider just what direction society is going to take. And will we survive ...............

Many thanks for reading.
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VINE VOICEon 2 March 2014
Despite having an interest in graphic novels, I don't know of many French ones. That's even despite visiting Angouléme a few years ago, I'm not up to scratch with French novels.

A few years ago a live-action Adele Blanc-Sec was released, which wasn't fantastic but did make me aware of the classic comic series, so I bought a few. Now I find myself in a similar boat as the live-action movie of "Transperceneige" (the original French title) comes out this year and we have the series translated in English for the first-time, just to plug the movie a little more!

I basically read through this in a single afternoon/evening. I couldn't put it down. I don't want to give away any spoilers (and therefore ruin the novel and the movie), but it's a slightly crazy idea of the last if the human-race being stuck on a forever-travelling 1001-carriage train. When reading it, I never "felt" that the train was that long, but maybe that just me! The entire setting is depressing and the political/social aspects of the book relate directly to real-life... even though it's 30 years old it still makes a good point about todays world (rich/poor, etc). The artwork, although somewhat dated, suits the tone completely with its stark colouring.

I bought both Vol1 and Vol2 at the same time. If you're a collector you'll want both. But with hindsight, Vol2 really wasn't necessary - it's almost a rehash of the first volume, and doesn't really add anything in it's own right. (If you read the notes inside, you find out it came out about 10/15 years the original with a different artist.) I don't know if the new movie will pull material from both sources, but I hope it just sticks with Vol 1.

Vol1 - 5/5
Vol2 - 3/5
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on 9 June 2014
I had only heard about this 'classic' novel just before I bought it, so I'm a new fan, not someone that had read it when it originally was written a few decades ago. I think I read about it (or the upcoming film) in Empire Magazine, and It immediately struck me as something that I would enjoy reading.

I was certainly not disappointed and am now definitely looking forward to the film adaptation starring Jamie Bell, Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. The 'blurb'/concept is very interesting and different and this inspired me to buy it without having much prior knowledge or awareness of it. A glimpse into a future where the planet is covered in Ice/snow and the only remnants of civilization are on board a thousand carriage long train, constantly traveling around the world. Not only that, but naturally this train has class defined areas, that ultimately lead to difficulties and lead to questions about morality, human nature and survival.

I prefer not to include spoilers in any reviews, so I won't go into any more detail on the story front. After reading it, I certainly enjoyed the 'simplicity' of the narrative, yet the complexity of the underlying themes and questions added enough depth to the book to cater for Adult reading. And it certainly is an adult novel, don't buy it for children, even if the concept, simplicity of the story and classic-ness of it would interest them. Warning, scenes of a sexual nature!

The reason I gave it 4/5 and not 5/5 is mainly due to the French to English Translation, sometimes leading to grammatical irregularities that make sequences a bit flat or uneasy to read. Having not read it in its original print, I can't tell wether that is down to writing style or wether it is as i say the translation issue, but either way one can certainly look past this and thoroughly enjoy this book with a moral.

Ive already received Volume 2: The Explorers and will read that in due course and the onto the Film later on in the year. Can't Wait!!
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on 27 August 2015
This is a novel new take on dystopian science fiction (though the train's perpetual motion engine does make it teeter towards fantasy). The setting is bleak and the story gripping. Much love and attention has been lavished on the art for the train, its setting, the main characters and all the female ones, and this adds greatly to the story but on occasion some of the male minor or background characters seem a bit short changed and interchangeable in facial features.
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A rollicking tale, very familiar in parts, but like the train of the title rattles along very nicely.

Yes, there are familiar elements to the story, but it's well drawn and enjoyable. The ending is a familiar but not dissatisfying theme, and overall, this is a very satisfactory post-apocalypse yarn; a movie adaptation is hardly surprising.

More, please ! Next volume is already ordered.
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on 10 August 2014
Brilliant - well worth the read if you've any interest from watching/hearing about the movie. The sheer scale that this gets across of the length of the train and the volume of people is incredible, much better than the film (which I saw first, I won't lie, didn't realise it was based on a comic)
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on 14 July 2014
Once I started reading, I couldn't stop (just like the train). I would have to say the ending was not on par with the rest of the comic and your left with more question then answers, but a gripping story from tail to engine.
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on 15 May 2014
Made into an equally brilliant film, too, this is stark and grown up and brutal but always gripping and exciting to read. Can't wait for Volume 2.
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on 28 April 2016
Magnificent novel with an interestingly dystopian storyline which plays on the utopian ideals that the Snowpiercer train was created under.
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on 19 October 2014
Excellent read. Powerful black and white drawing on a nightmarish background.
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