- Books, Literature, and Writing
Finder: Sin Eater vol. 1: Unkillable Indians, Mixed-Race Relations, and One of the Weirdest Cities in Fiction
This comic is definitely strange. Taking place in a world vastly different from our own, with cat- and lizard-people, centaurs, robots, an extremely complex clan society, and a city so crowded that its people live in three shifts throughout the day. And yet there is very frequent references to relatively contemporary American pop culture. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be Earth in the far future or another world with similar pop culture, but oddly, whichever it is doesn't really matter.
What should be an incoherent mess oddly works. This world is so strange that you just kinda go along with it. I was incredibly confused at several junctures as to what was happening and why (not realizing that there were handy dandy notes in the back for helping to understand the strange society of the city of Anvard), but I was confident that while I may not yet understand the nuances of what I was reading about, the comic's creator, Carla Speed McNeil, did, and would explain what needed to be known in time.
Another thing that helps deal with the unfamiliar world is the interesting and fascinating characters who populate it, and to whom all of this is normal. For this volume, volume 1 of "Sin Eater," our main character is Jaeger, an enigmatic young man who is a mystery even to himself. Jaeger, who claims to be a member of the world's equivalent of Native Americans (creatively referred to as "Indians," although my understanding is that that changes in later volumes), but apparently he doesn't really look like one. He formerly was in the military, so he can definitely take care of himself. And for some strange reason he heals instantaneously, and indeed long periods of time without getting hurt causes him to get sick.
As the book opens, Jaeger is coming in from the desert to visit the massive and ancient city of Anvard, which lives under a dome of a mysterious light-filtering plastic substance and is so massive its citizenry is divided into three shifts, whose daily schedules start and end at different times of day. After some minor adventures meandering around the lower ends of the city, Jaeger finds his way to the Grosvenor family, friends of his he hasn't seen in a while. They are made up of Emma, the mother, and her three daughters Rachel (a 14 year old madly in love with Jaeger), Lynne (a young girl who is way too clever than anyone her age has any right to be), and youngest of all Marcie (who is constantly sick). Absent is father Brigham, a former army officer and Jaeger's old superior who had been thrown in jail for mysterious reasons, and who has recently be released. Emma wants nothing to do with him, but Jaeger appears to be spying on the family for him....
These characters and their interactions with one another are the heart of this story, and they help illustrate the world this story takes place in. Brigham and Emma are of different clans, something that makes their union scandalous, as clans breed for physical uniformity as much as possible. This puts both, as well as their daughters, in an extremely poor social situation, as well as causing angst for Rachel, who's beginning to notice she isn't really like either of her parents' clans. Jaeger, who has no clan at all, is viewed with some suspicion as a loose cannon by even some of his most trusted companions. Seeing characters with whom you can identify (and these characters are quite identifiable, full of plenty of conflicted emotions and warring priorities that makes their dialogue seem to flow right off the page) going through an alien experience makes that experience more comprehensible to the reader.
Of all the characters, Brigham may be the most fascinating, aside from Jaeger at least. This is because how he views himself (as a family man who has screwed up in the past but who wants to reconnect with his family) and how Emma views him (as a monster from a nightmare) are so drastically different. The truth, observed by Jaeger and the reader, is somewhere intriguingly in the middle: Brigham is selfish, callous, and oblivious to the harm that he can cause through his careless actions, but he legitimately loves Emma, Rachel, and Marcie (he doesn't care at all about Lynne, who he largely ignores). It's interesting having a character who is so hard to pin down morals wise.
All in all, this book was a fascinating dip into a world that I want to visit again as soon as possible. the series I think is a little hard to find, but it's worth it to experience the awesomeness of this story. Snatch a volume up if you happen upon one, and happy reading!