Every teenager wants people to take him or her seriously. Herbert Miles wakes up one day 200 years in the future, finding that people took him way too seriously. Herbert’s website www.thehopevirus.com has become the new gospel for Londoners, although it was originally intended as an outlet for his depression. This means that the world has become a dark, dreary place, and is also full of mutants and crazy villains who are out to get people. Herbert must now team up with a gorgeous blonde goth to try to save the world from the misinterpretation of his online journal.
The premise of the story sounds exciting. It plays upon the hopes and fears that many teens have — wanting to be immortal (and famous) and fearing that people just won’t “get” them. Feeling isolated and alone at school and using the internet to connect to people totally works, and I’m willing to overlook the fact that most teens don’t use livejournal-esque websites anymore. However, the execution just didn’t live up to its potential. I am a little confused about how Herbert got to the future or why certain characters change their loyalty to concepts and people so quickly. I appreciated the numerous attempts at humorous references and even laughed a few times, but some of the lines missed the mark. The more serious text often came off stilted and awkward, especially Herbert’s dialogue. At the same time, if you allow yourself to completely fall through the looking glass, the story itself is intriguing.
The strangely gorgeous art is even better. The book is intriguing to look at, although there is surfeit of eyeliner on all of the characters. While I never got into the goth look myself, I know some teens who would love the intense looking characters set in their Dickensian dystopia of the future. The girl (yes — the only girl), Helen, is a steampunk cross between a Blythe doll and emo Baby Spice. While I find her a little disturbing at times, her look was definitely interesting to see, and it grew on me. The biggest flaw in the artwork was how young Herbert looked. When I read that he was supposed to be 17, I scoffed. However, other than that, the art created a fun, strange atmosphere to play out the tale.
If they do publish a sequel, I might pick it up, at least to see if it answers some leftover plot questions.
The Hope Virus
by Sean O’Reilly
Art by Owen Gieni, Chandran
Arcana Studio, 2010