The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim

Title:  The Eternal Smile
Authors:  Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
Release date:  April 28, 2009
Publisher:  First Second
Pages:  176
Genre:  Graphic novel, short stories
Source:  Library

The three short graphic novels in The Eternal Smile have one thing in common:  things in these stories are not what they seem.  In the first, Duncan’s Kingdom, a brave boy must win over his friend – a princess – by destroying a terrifying frog king.  In the second, The Eternal Smile, Gran’pa Greenbax develops a money-making scheme based on this randomly appearing smile in the sky, a beautiful smile that never disappears.  And in Urgent Request, a quiet young office assistant answers a fraudulent email from Nigerian royalty requesting immediate access to her bank account.  In each of these three stories, the reader expects one thing and as the story unfolds, ends up getting something completely different.

I liked this one.  All three of these stories were intriguing, especially once I realized the truth of each one.  I particularly enjoyed how they had the common theme of fantasy blurring together with reality running through all of them.  There was really only one character that I felt like I got to know (I think it’s difficult to enjoy characters in stories that are this short) and that would be Janet, the young woman from Urgent Request.  She was just so innocent and quiet, but I read along as she gained confidence within herself as the story went along.  I didn’t totally get why she did what she did, but I liked her all the same.

The artwork in The Eternal Smile was excellent.  Each of the three stories had distinctly different styles, but the styles matched the tone of each story.  My favorite artwork was probably that of Urgent Request.  It was very subdued and calming, but really very pretty.  I don’t know – I just really liked looking at it!

I’m not very good at reviewing graphic novels, I’ve come to realize.  I just don’t have a lot to say about The Eternal Smile except for, if you like graphic novels, I recommend this book.  Also, since it’s short stories, it might be a good starting point for someone unfamiliar with the genre.  While it wasn’t my favorite graphic novel I’ve read, I definitely enjoyed reading it and I’m glad I did.

11 thoughts on “The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim”

  1. I never know how to review graphic books either, lol. Have you read American Born Chinese? How does it compare to this one? I really enjoyed ABC, but most reviews seem to say this one isn’t as good.

    1. You know, I would agree that this isn’t as good as American Born Chinese. I found ABC to have a “wow” factor that The Eternal Smile really doesn’t have. But I still liked it. 🙂

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