Please note: I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not alter my opinions of my review in any way.
Synopsis:English mathematician and scientist Alan Turing (1912–1954) is credited with many of the foundational principles of contemporary computer science. The Imitation Game presents a historically accurate graphic novel biography of Turing’s life, including his groundbreaking work on the fundamentals of cryptography and artificial intelligence. His code breaking efforts led to the cracking of the German Enigma during World War II, work that saved countless lives and accelerated the Allied defeat of the Nazis. While Turing’s achievements remain relevant decades after his death, the story of his life in post-war Europe continues to fascinate audiences today.
Award-winning duo Jim Ottaviani (the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Feynman and Primates) and artist Leland Purvis (an Eisner and Ignatz Award nominee and occasional reviewer for the Comics Journal) present a factually detailed account of Turing’s life and groundbreaking research—as an unconventional genius who was arrested, tried, convicted, and punished for his openly gay lifestyle, and whose innovative work still fuels the computing and communication systems that define our modern world. Computer science buffs, comics fans, and history aficionados will be captivated by this riveting and tragic story of one of the 20th century’s most unsung heroes.
Review:When I found The Imitation Game, by Jim Ottaviani on NetGalley I was immediately interested in requesting it. I had not seen the movie, but I thought this was a little-known piece of history that I should learn about. This is a graphic novel and not a novelization of the movie. The fact that this is a graphic novel gave me pause as I usually find them lacking. I just like to have more written information when I read a book.
Needless to say, I was very surprised and happy as I read this book. It does a brilliant job of explaining who Alan Turing was and what he accomplished in his short life.
What I liked:Learning about the Enigma machine: This book did a wonderful job of taking a very complicated (and possibly boring) subject and making it easy to understand. This is where the medium of a graphic novel was a tremendous benefit for this book. The artist made great use of images to convey how the technology worked. It was also was able to show some of the complicated mathematics and make them accessible to non math wizards.
The Story Format: I liked the storytelling device of interviews used in the book. We are mainly seeing an interview with Alan's mother and are able to see parts of his childhood and years as a student to see what experiences shaped him. I thought this was very clever.
What I was mixed about:The artwork: While the artist did do an amazing job of showing us what the Enigma machine was and how the mathematics worked, I wouldn't say the art was eye-popping. This is not a super-hero type book, so there is little opportunity for flashy drawings and such. But I would have liked perhaps a little more color. As I write this, it occurs to me that maybe the artist deliberately had a washed out color scheme to reflect England during WWII? But looking at the cover, which was so bright with color, I was expecting more pop to the artwork.
What I didn't like:The Book Format: I think this would be a book that one should read in physical format, rather than digital. I found that the wording was very small so I had to increase the magnification on my Adobe reader. This meant I couldn't see the whole page all at once. There were parts of the visuals where the reader needs to see the entire page at once in order to get the full effect of the drawings. Since I needed to make the wording larger, I did not get some of the visual benefits.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It makes me want to learn more about Alan Turing, and maybe even see the movie.
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Recommendation: A very enjoyable book that makes complicated science easier to access. People interested in technology should definitely read to get an appreciation for how computers began.