Honestly, after Casey’s review of this title, I feel like my whole review could just be “I agree!” But that would be a bit of a cheat. Besides, I did read the English translation, so we do have that difference.
Blue Is the Warmest Color is a graphic novel structured so that Emma is reading her recently deceased girlfriend’s high school diaries, which then show us flashbacks, which make up most of the narrative. It is set in 90s France, and most of the art is in black, white, and grey, like watercolours, but with occasional splashes of colour. The artwork is definitely the best part of this collection (you can see panels in Casey’s reviews). I especially appreciated how Maroh draws faces, which portray subtle expressions. Although the text is translated, there is also some untranslated French in the background, like on banners in the panels, and things like sound effects. Obviously, if you are able to read French, I’m sure the original publication is the best way to read this book.
This is both a sexy and angsty book. Clementine sees Emma on a crowded street and passing and begins dreaming about her. Emma is a mysterious and captivating figure, her blue hair the only spot of colour in the panel. I could definitely see where Clem was coming from in her attraction to this anonymous figure with the sly smile. Emma grows into a more full character by the end of the book, but this might have been my favourite part, with the thrill of potential. There is more angst and sexiness, though, including beautifully drawn sex scenes, and all the drama of coming out. We know that Clementine is dead from the first few pages, and yet the narrative manages to only up the melodrama. Everything seems to be as difficult and painful as possible, including a few moments that seemed implausible. [spoilers, highlight to read] Really? You’re staying over at your closeted girlfriend’s house and you go downstairs (in the night) naked? I don’t care if you think everyone is asleep, that seems pretty far-fetched. And the circumstances of her death seemed more dramatic than necessary. [end spoilers]
Really, I felt very similarly to Casey on this book. The artwork is so beautiful, and with the hype around the movie version winning the Palme d’Or, I wouldn’t try to dissuade anyone from picking this one up, but do be prepared for some over-the-top melodrama.