Featuring Hernandez’s longtime Love and Rockets heroine Maggie, The Love Bunglers is tied together by the initial thread of the suppression of family history. Because these secrets can’t be dealt with openly, their lingering effect is even more powerful. But Maggie’s ability to navigate and find meaning in her life — despite losing her culture, her brother, her profession, and her friends — is what’s made her a compelling character. After a lifetime of losses, Maggie finds, in the second half, her longtime off and on lover, Ray Dominguez. In taking us through lives, deaths, and near-fatalities, The Love Bunglers encapsulates Maggie’s emotional history as it moves from resignation to memories of loss, to sudden violence (a theme in this story) and eventually to love and contentment. Much like what John Updike created in his four Rabbit novels, Jaime Hernandez has been following his longtime character, Maggie, around for several decades, all of which has seemed to be building towards this book in particular.
Alright, so there I was in my library’s graphic novel section when this spine (and then cover) jumped out at me. I should really learn to look books up on Goodreads before checking them out, or at least before reading them, because it turns out that this is NUMBER TWENTY-EIGHT IN A SERIES. Oddly enough, I just checked my library’s online catalog (just in case I was completely oblivious to the other twenty-seven volumes of this series) and I did not just miss an entire row of books — this is the only one they have. This also isn’t mentioned anywhere on the copy I checked out, which I find a bit odd.
Because of the very minimalistic art style, the various time jumps, and the whole “number 28 in a series” thing, I had a hard time keeping the characters straight and remembering what was happening to who and how everybody was connected. Overall, the book was very confusing, which was, again, at least partially my fault. That said, I feel like, after 110 pages, who was who and what was going on should have been at least somewhat clear to me.
As for the plot, or what little of it I understood, it was just so sad. And why, I’m not sure. I mean, I figured that a book called “The Love Bunglers” would be at least a little sad, but I didn’t expect something like the repeated rape of a child to be something that would be a throwaway plot line. I suppose I can’t speak to what happened in the 27 volumes that came before this one or anything that comes after it, but in The Love Bunglers, it’s just something that happens, is a thing for a few pages, and then disappears.
With a Goodreads average of 4.25 stars, this is clearly a very well-loved book, but it wasn’t for me. I nearly DNFed it around page 25 (that’s when the rape starts happening) but I wanted to push through to the end to see how everything was resolved. Turns out it wasn’t and I’m mad that I wasted my time.
Have you read The Love Bunglers? What about the rest of the Love and Rockets series?
Let’s talk in the comments!
Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’