The Atlantic chooses Sabrina as a best book of 2018

“The 19 Best Books of 2018” / The Atlantic / Lenika Cruz / December 26, 2018

The first graphic novel to be longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Sabrina is the kind of tale whose visual simplicity belies how viscerally disturbing it is. (Suffice it to say that everyone I know who has read this book told me it gave them awful dreams.) Nick Drnaso has created a minimalist horror story that functions as a gutting critique of a modern media environment choked with misinformation, propaganda, and conspiracy theories. A young woman named Sabrina goes missing. Her disappearance and the revelations that follow trigger not only a deep grief among those who knew and loved her, but also a kind of mass hysteria throughout the United States. Following a familiar pattern, Sabrina’s case mutates from an unspeakable human tragedy into a political symbol—fuel for a brand of insatiable paranoia kept alive by reckless commentators and denizens of online forums. Drnaso’s buildup is patient, his artistic style understated. Entire pages go by without someone speaking. Characters browse the internet or listen to the radio or sit quietly in a room. People are rendered plainly—pinpricks for eyes, a wisp of ink for mouths—so that any remotely exaggerated expression feels like a jump scare. This is a book that, because of Drnaso’s immense talent and the stubbornness of the ugly realities depicted, never quite leaves you.

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