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The Butterfly by Cixin Liu, adapted and illustrated by Dan Panosian from @HoZ_Books

The Butterfly by Cixin Liu adapted and illustrated by Dan Panosian.

Head of Zeus, pb, £14.99

Reviewed by Sarah Deeming

The front cover for The Butterfly by Cixin Liu. The picture shows planes flying over head. There are a few clouds in the sky and slipstreams from the plans. There are building roofs and hills in the bottom third of the page. Shades of grey-blue are used for everything except a kaleidoscope of butterflies that are red and gold. The butterflies are racing ahead of the planes.

War rages in the skies above Belgrade, and the residents hide in their basements, hoping to see another day. Scientists Alekander and Reznik have a plan to trigger weather events which will cover Belgrade, protecting it from airborne attacks. The plan requires Alekander to travel the world to weather hotspots, as identified by Reznik on the world’s strongest computer, and make a slight change to the temperature, which will cause cloud cover. The Butterfly Effect in action. But are their efforts enough to save the city, or is it already too late?

Cixin Liu is an incredibly imaginative Chinese science fiction author who creates unique stories that have captivated audiences since 1989. Head of Zeus has partnered with illustrators from around the world to turn these fantastic stories into graphic novels.

The Butterfly is a fascinating story based on the Butterfly Effect principal. So if a butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the planet, it creates a tornado on the other side. Alekander deliberately leaves his family behind in a warzone to become that metaphorical butterfly flapping his wings around the world to protect his city. The story covers the obvious science fiction theme of weather manipulation but also goes deeper into the motivations of trying to save a city when everyone you love has gone.

Dan Panosian’s work is incredibly sympathetic to the story being told. The panels are realistically drawn, suitable for a tale of such gravity, and the use of colour is clever. Mostly, the people and surroundings are grey, and only the sky has any colour. This changes when we are with Alekander’s family, the wife and child he left in Belgrade because everything is in colour. This use of colour signifies Alekander’s motivation and the importance of this mission to him. Without his family, the world would have no colour.

The climax comes in a double-page spread that reveals the chaotic scenes of the war Alekander has been trying to avoid. The pages covering the spread are black, then open to a full panel of explosions and tragedy. It was really effective.

The book is beautifully presented. Usually, I don’t pay much attention to the physical book, but as soon as I picked The Butterfly up, I was impressed by the glossy front and the quality feel of the book. A lot of care has gone into creating the graphic novel version of The Butterfly.

With an interesting take on the Butterfly Effect and an in-depth exploration of love and sacrifice coupled with sensitive and dynamic panels, The Butterfly is a must-have for any science fiction or graphic novel fan.

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