Ciudad: A fast review of a fast read

The basic premise: a Brazilian drug lord’s daughter gets held for ransom, and a bounty hunter is hired to bring her back alive.

(Read without fear… no spoilers be here)

Ciudad, by Ande Parks, Joe Russo, and Anthony Russo, reads like an action flick, which is probably why it was picked up for a silver screen adaptation by Sierra Pictures. It is fast paced, violent, gritty, and features all the twisted corruption that we love about South American politics. In spite of its predictability, and the characters being more like caricatures than real people, I found myself liking it for the same reason people like action movies. It’s racy and entertaining and not from my world.

The hero opens up and reveals a little more of himself as the story progresses, thanks to the honest, unassuming and unconscious efforts of the heroine, Eva. As the reader, you have to be patient with the guy. He has a quota of like 86 swear words before he’ll give you one nugget about his past. He’s the strong, silent type as all good heroes should be. Take a look at who does most of the talking in this excerpt (hint: not our hero):

Through the course of the story, the main characters help each other become better people. They learn to communicate and be more honest with each other. They learn to care. Huge leaps in their relationship happen in intense bursts, so quickly that I wish they were massaged out with more finesse. Perhaps this is intentional--their lifestyles are aggressively dangerous and they never know when their last breath might come. While they are relationally immature people, they are willing to make jumps.

Aesthetically speaking, the illustrations drive the story and the dialogue is rendered almost unnecessary. A few pages manage to transcend into experiential art. For example, let your eyes follow the knife around this action scene:

If you were the one in the knife fight, wouldn’t you keep your eye on the knife at all times? Notice the noise in the scene from the floating bottles that never seem to land. In reality, they would land and roll, but it’s a beautiful graphical solution to represent the frenzied clanging that we would hear if we could.

To sum it up, I know that I don’t like action movies so I’m glad I read Ciudad ahead of the movie release—I can chime in conversations after it comes out.

(note: I got an ARC from Netgalley, but that didn't affect my honest opinion)

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