You’ve got tinnitus!
I can’t say I really expected to hate The Omniscients by Dugomier, illustrated by Renata Castellani but I kind of just…did. By all acounts, this probably should have been a story that I loved. It had an absolutely entrancing premise, after all. The truth, though, is that this book really suffers from being a graphic novel and I’m frankly not quite sure what could save it other than to completely change its format.
A Lengthy Waste
Alright, so the basics of this story are that there are five kids who wake up one morning with a bit of a ringing in their ears. This quickly goes away, of course, only to be replaced by knowledge. And not just any kind of knowledge, but all possible public knowledge in existence. The only thing these kids don’t know off the top of their heads are personal and private information. It’s like they’ve suddenly found themselves with some sort of transmitter abilities and can even tune into something like Wikipedia.
And despite having the makings of a really cool story, The Omniscients just flopped. There was nothing engaging or exciting about this graphic novel. It spent far too much time poorly introducing us to the characters and then had them do sod all for the entirety of the story. I wanted to cry for the lack of anything truly intriguing happening. And look, I get it. Graphic novels need to set up their characters and they typically have no choice but to work in an episodic format.
But what the hell was that?
I’ll give Dugomier this, he did an excellent job of building up a diverse cast of characters. There’s Albert whose black, an undocumented immigrant called Diego, a Mexican girl Ambèr, and finally the two white kids, James and Jessica. I genuinely haven’t seen as diverse a cast of characters in a while, so this was a huge plus for me. Add in the fact that the artwork was fantastic, and I feel like this book really had a lot of potential.
In fact, the artwork and diversity is the only reason I rated this book as high as I did. I loved the backgrounds that the kids came from. I loved Ambèr and Albert’s parents. It was especially amazing since Ambèr’s parents are rights activists and Albert’s are lawyers. I was insanely excited about all of this.
But Nothing Happens!
And I can’t get over it. This volume exists solely as a set up for the rest of the series. And it just feels so painfully pointless to me. Literally, the only purpose behind any of it was to get the kids to all meet up together. And I never got enough time with any of them to feel like I was really getting to know them. The only kid who had any substance to him was Diego. And his substance was so damn brief that it, too, even felt pointless after a while.
It’s very clear that this book was meant to be an introduction to a lot more. The problem, though, is that I have no desire to read any of the more to come. Why? I just don’t care about these characters. There was no true hook. I never got to know any of them. I never found myself being pulled in a direction that would allow me to care about their lives or their adventures. They are all hollow shells of personalities that the reader is supposed to recognize, but you poke them and find absolutely nothing underneath.
With the exception of Diego. Deigo has some depth.
But even that wasn’t enough to save it for me. And instead I’m left with a book where nothing happens aside from them all getting together in one place. And I literally could not care less.
What a Waste
There’s also this weird side plot that’s introduced at the beginning and revisited throughout the course of the novel that I never fully understood. The author never actually put anything clarifying about all the side pieces (with the exception of the FBI’s involvement in chasing the kids down), thus leaving those portions feeling confusing. I didn’t care about that either. I should at least have been intrigued enough to want to know more.
I think, at the end of the day, the biggest problem with this story is that it doesn’t spend enough time developing its characters and instead focuses on reaching an end goal. I probably would have fallen in love with this book had Dugomier kept some of the kids separated and spent more time building their personalities. If this was the start of them all knowing they needed to find each other and they were thwarted, that would have been fascinating.
Imagine how brilliant it could have been if we got to know these characters and then saw them struggle. And if a graphic novel is supposed to work in a similar manner to which an episode of a television show does, this one fails horribly. I need a hook, something to capture my attention and make me want to know more. Don’t just throw something bare bones at me and expect me to love it or even care about the second installment.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.