The Bad Times: An Drochshaol is a story of pain and suffering, but also one of love and loyalty. Brigit, Daniel, and Liam are three teenagers from County Clare in the west of Ireland who live through the horrors of the Great Hunger in Ireland, also remembered by survivors as The Bad Times. The bonds of love and friendship between the teens are put to the test during Ireland's Great Hunger as they each make the tough decisions needed to survive. Their story is movingly told in this new graphic novel by historian Christine Kinealy and graphic novelist John Walsh.
The Bad Times is set during the Great Hunger, a disaster precipitated by the failure of the potato crop, but exacerbated by the inadequate policies of the British government and the cruelty and opportunism of some landowners and merchants. It takes place between 1846 and 1849. The Bad Times is based on the experiences of three young adults, Dan, Brigit and Liam, who are close friends, and their loyal dog, Cú. When the story commences, in late summer 1846, the potato crop is about to fail for a second time.
Given the topic that The Bad Times covers, the Great Hunger in Ireland, I feel somewhat weird saying that I loved this book. Since I am still on a history kick and find graphic novels quite enjoyable, I was definitely excited to see how they would handle telling the story of the famine that racked Ireland during the late 1800s.
While not the most cheery of books, this book is one that touches you right to the heart because reading about the suffering that the Irish went through during the Great Hunger is not easy. Yet, this graphic novel handles devastating event so well. What really struck me was the bond of friendship that Dan, Birgit shared and how they sought to help each other.
The Bad Times did such a incredible job illustrating how the Great Hunger effected so many families in Ireland. From a historical standpoint, I believe this book would be a great way to talk about the famine (and even how so many people throughout the world still don't have enough to eat) because the story and visuals really showed the mark it left upon the Irish.
When I first cracked The Bad Times open, I was unsure what to think of the art style. As it was different from all the other graphic novels I've read. Yet, it was the art that did a great job showcasing just how bad things were. The way the faces were drawn, well, there is no way that you cannot see the sadness and misery etched across them.
I think the combination of reading and seeing about the Great Hunger in this graphic novel is something that won't leave me anytime soon. They just complemented and enhanced each other so well.
I am officially out of words for this incredible book!! Oh yeah, there's a glossary in the back of the book that translate the Irish words that are sprinkled throughout the book. Yes, seeing a glossary of translations made me extremely happy!!
Final Verdict: The Bad Times- Loyalty to friends- even when it meant saying goodbye-,the effects of class-ism, and the Great Hunger combine to make one powerful story in this graphic novel. This is a great way to a piece of history with readers of all ages (8+ yrs).
The Bad Times earns
A copy of this book was received in consideration for review. All thoughts are my own.