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Andrew Vachss, UNDERGROUND

Vachss: UndergroundVachss: Underground by Andrew Vachss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"When there is no longer any reliable source of 'news,' there is nothing to trust . . .and the terror descends."

For decades, perhaps even centuries, the Rulers secretly used slave and prisoner labor to construct Underground, a wholly contained world located below ground, predicting that their subjects would trade their freedom for "safety" and "security," fleeing to Underground out of fear of an unknown peril in the Outside. Now "truth" has become what the Rulers say it is, and the Rulers rule everyone and everything within their domain.

But within this antiseptic and utterly evil world, revolution rears its head. A new band of journalists, who call themselves "The Book Boys," risk all to tag the real truth on the pristine, well-cleansed walls of Underground.

This graphic novel, a collaboration by Andrew Vachss, Mike Richardson, and artists Chet Williams, Dominic Reardon, Keith Champagne, Jeremy Colwell, Nate Piekos, and Sean Phillips, presents a metaphor of the lives of sexually abused children and the journey they must make to become fully, healthily adult in a mad world. "Underground" stands for the collective unconscious that will not allow most people to see the evils all around them, and the individual unconscious mind that can keep victims who have suffered utter shame, humiliation, and even physical damage inflicted on them by their tormentors in a living hell for their entire lives. To leave Underground is to become conscious -- and thus able to make intelligent choices about what one will do for the rest of one's life, and how one should interact with other human beings, especially children. This is a story of sin, evil, deliverance, and redemption which, rather than being couched in the style of any particular religion, is presented as a fable of life in the mundane world.

Anyone who has ever suffered sexual and/or other abuse at the hands of caretakers, siblings, next-door neighbors, pastors, or anyone else as a child should read this book. So should anyone who has perpetrated such abuse -- who in many cases has suffered abuse as a child or political prisoner or other helpless person -- so that he or she may become aware of the harm abusing others causes, and to regain empathy toward potential victims that will hinder him or her in committing more abuse. I give this one 5 stars.

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Yael Dragwyla

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