Alone: The Machine for Undying (Book 10) – Fabien Vehlmann

3 out of 5

Things have become so deliriously complex at this point that volume 10 somewhat amounts to juggling: keeping the different plotthreads (and characters) moving.  It’s done well, and Vehlmann has gotten us used to how things change on a dime in Alone, but a consequence of sending different groups off on separate paths results in The Machine for Undying’s somewhat herky jerk structure.

Terry and the Master of Knives are on the run after last book’s attack; Camille shows back up to freak us the hell out; Dodzi is being whisked around – and tortured? – by the mysterious (and creepy) ‘Mad Master’; and then in Neosalem, we’re still getting bits and pieces of ‘the in-between world’…  Saying it out loud, I can’t tell you how pleased I am that Fabien has pushed his story into these weird realms, as the initial setup of “where did all the adults go?” would’ve had some dumb, forced twist explanation by this point in the hands of a lesser author.  Praise also goes to Gazotti (and colorist Usagi) for maintaining the cartoonish look of things, and yet not skimping on the really haunting imagery, and able to make it all sync, stylistically.

Terry has a lot of the dialogue in volume 10, and it can be a bit eye-rolling: as a youngster forced into quite hefty scenarios, he scrambles to make it make sense via his kid brain, and that gives Vehlmann license to explain a lot of things out loud.  However, his gee-whiz point of view does serve as a good balance to some of the crazy things happening around him, and of course, volume 10 ends with another killer dose of ‘what the heck just happened?’