Monday, 17 January 2011

Review: Tyranny - Lesley Fairfield

: February 7th 2011, Walker

: 128 pages, paperback

: Nope

Sent for review

Summary (from Goodreads):
In Tyranny, brisk, spare text and illustrations that deal head-on with anorexia propel the reader along on Anna’s journey as she falls prey to the eating disorder, personified as her tormentor, Tyranny.

The novel starts with a single question: “How did I get here?” The answer lies in the pages that follow, and it’s far from simple. Pressured by media, friends, the workplace, personal relationships, and fashion trends, Anna descends into a seemingly unending cycle of misery. And whenever she tries to climb out of the abyss, her own personal demon, Tyranny, is there to push her back in.

The contest seems uneven, and it might be except for one thing: Anna’s strength of character has given rise to her deadly enemy. Ironically, it is that same strength of character that has the ultimate power to save her from the ravages of Tyranny.
Brilliantly and realistically presented, Tyranny is a must-read for anyone looking for a better understanding of eating disorders and for everyone looking for a compelling page-turner that is truly a story of triumph and hope.

My review: I read my first graphic novel last year and was instantly converted – I thought it might get confusing trying to understand the layout but I love the blend of illustrations and narrative and think graphic novels, when well done, can be an enhanced reading experience.

When I accepted Tyranny for review I think I knew it wasn’t going to be like anything else I’d ever read and that feeling was definitely correct. This is a heartbreaking novel that doesn’t shy away from the truth of eating disorders and I applaud it for its honesty, even if it can make difficult reading at times.

The illustrations are great with a specialised style and Tyranny itself is really quite scary – a horrible manifestation of an awful disease. We follow the story of Anna, an anorexia sufferer, as she tries to overcome the illness that has dictated her life for so many years.

We see her strengths, her weaknesses, her hardest times are laid completely bare and it’s impossible not to feel for her as she tries desperately to claw her life back, after watching everything slip away because of her illness.

I’ve never seen a graphic novel that deals with serious issues before so this made a nice change. I imagine Tyranny is perfect for younger readers and teens, while it is entertaining it’s also educational without preaching or judging anybody involved.

It's a quick read, I read it in a single sitting over the course of forty five minutes or so so it's perfect to while away the minutes on that boring train or bus journey. The pace was spot on - I think the intense subject matter makes this work best as a shorter novel. Tyranny is certainly one of the most unique novels I’ve read in a very long time and it’s one that I’m sure will linger in my mind.

First line: ‘I told you not to eat, you are too fat!’

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 16/20 (B+)

Goodreads page

Alternative covers:


  1. I completely agree with you about this book, and about graphic novels in general. Great review - thanks!
    I've read a few graphic novels about serious subjects. In case you're interested, Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto is one of the most memorable. (And it's brilliant!)

  2. I read it last year with the older cover. I still need to read it. I agree with your review.


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