Book Review: Goliath by Tom Gauld

Book cover of Goliath by Tom GauldGoliath by Tom Gauld (2012)
96 pages
Goodreads Summary: Goliath of Gath isn’t much of a fighter. Given half a choice, he would pick admin work over patrolling in a heartbeat, to say nothing of his distaste for engaging in combat. Nonetheless, at the behest of the king, he finds himself issuing a twice-daily challenge to the Israelites: “Choose a man. Let him come to me that we may fight. If he be able to kill me then we shall be your servants. But if I kill him, then you shall be our servants.” Day after day he reluctantly repeats his speech, and the isolation of this duty gives him the chance to banter with his shield-bearer and reflect on the beauty of his surroundings.

This is the story of David and Goliath as seen from Goliath’s side of the Valley of Elah. Quiet moments in Goliath’s life as a soldier are accentuated by Tom Gauld’s drawing style, which contrasts minimalist scenery and near-geometric humans with densely crosshatched detail reminiscent of Edward Gorey. Goliath’s battle is simultaneously tragic and bleakly funny, as bureaucracy pervades even this most mythic of figures. Goliath displays a sensitive wit, a bold line, and a traditional narrative reworked, remade, and revolutionized.

I don’t remember where I first saw this book, on a book blog probably, but as I recall the person who read it was raving about it.  And, I thought I remembered that it had a really high rating on Goodreads, although when I looked again recently, it was 3.98 which is still high, but I thought it was higher than a 4.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that I had a very high impression of this book but when I read it I didn’t feel as strongly as I’d anticipated.  In fact, I just didn’t see what the hype was about and I finished the book feeling pretty apathetic; not let down or disappointed, just nothing.

The book is quite minimalist with little dialogue or text and no page numbers even.  The art is quite minimal as well and I’ve seen some people say this is what makes it so good.  I didn’t get the same feeling though and I also didn’t feel a strong attachment or connection to the character of Goliath even though the story is told from his perspective.  He doesn’t provide the narration though so maybe that was part of the problem.

I honestly don’t get what this book is about or why it was written.  I didn’t see anything unique or new to the story and it only took me a few minutes to read through or else I would have felt like I wasted my time.  Still, I’m glad I picked it up to see if it was for me.

I’d recommend this if you’re looking for a very quick and easy read, or if you love minimal art and graphic novels.  It just didn’t do it for me but I know that it has a lot of value and will be enjoyed by others.  It’s super short so it’s at least worth a try to see if it’s a book you’ll love.

My Rating:  ★★☆☆☆

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