Saturday, 29 January 2011
Review: Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield
Illustrated with simple black-and-white drawings, Lesley Fairfield makes minimal use of dialogue and narration in this honest and brave exploration of eating disorders. No words are wasted, and there's much to be learnt about the way that anorexia and bulimia take hold of a person. Anna goes from being a healthy girl to a starving and dangerously ill young woman - and in pictures, the distinction is unmistakeable. The demon Tyranny is depicted powerfully as an eerie, skeletal creature with bulging eyes. Both human and monstrous, it's made very clear that Tyranny is the true villain of the story.
While the unusual marriage of subject matter and format gives Tyranny a certain novelty value, it also reads very much like a memoir. The author bio confirms that Lesley Fairfield has battled both anorexia and bulimia for thirty years, and there's a clear sense that she's using her own experiences with the aim of raising awareness among teenage readers. The format lends itself well to the educational aspects of the story, and it's wonderful to see a novel about eating disorders that has the potential to reach reluctant readers.
In opting to tell this story in graphic novel form, Lesley Fairfield has had to make sacrifices in terms of character development and plot complexity to achieve the greatest possible impact for her central message of hope. Anna is undoubtedly a sympathetic heroine, but she represents the common experiences of those who have struggled with eating disorders - we never seem to learn enough about her to make this her story. Still, readers will cheer her on in her emotional battle against the demon Tyranny, and the story has the potential to inspire and help those affected by anorexia or bulimia themselves.
Tyranny gets to the heart of a painful subject with sensitivity. The clear and direct style makes it ideal for younger teens, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a responsible and frank introduction to the theme of eating disorders.
Out: February 7th 2011, UK
Thank you to Walker Books for providing a review copy of this book.