I have had this site bookmarked for years. When I finally got around to reading it, I had completely forgotten what it was about. And phew… This was an absolutely heartbreaking read, but such an important one.
The Boat is an interactive graphic novel about a Vietnamese girl named Mai who is fleeing from the Vietnam War.
My Thoughts on The Boat, based on the story by Nam Le, Adaptation by Matt Huynh, Produced by SBS
One day Mai’s mother puts her on a bus to meet an uncle she had never met in Rach Gia. Soon after, she is lead through a series of hiding places until she ends up on a boat, where she meets a woman and her young son, whom she forms a strong connection with during their horrifying journey to Australia.
This was my first interactive read like this. I will say, a bit of it made me a little nauseated because of the movement, but that’s totally a personal issue that I have. Even the slightest movement on a screen can make me instantly a bit sick. It’s pathetically, really. I mean, I’ve made myself sick by scrolling through an excel document too quickly before. But in this situation, it really wasn’t bad. The first scene on the boat was the worst bit for me, movement wise. After that, it calms down.
The sound effects were such an interesting addition! I’m usually one that likes to read in quiet areas, so this took me a quick minute to get used to. But then I loved it! It really adds to the story! For example, in the opening scene, you hear the thunder, lightning, wind, and rain of the storm. Later on, during one scene, you scroll past a match being lit and you actually hear it. One sound effect made me jump because it was timed so perfectly with the story that I hadn’t seen it coming at all! Incredible!
The artwork was very striking. It was bold and the faces of the people really demanded my attention. I loved that most of it was done in black and white, while there were a couple parts with color. I also loved that as we followed the block of illustrations that moved the story forward, we also saw specific scene related background images, some stationary and some that also moved.
The real images and video that were included were also an incredible addition to this. Many of the images and the video at the end were, for lack of a better word, gut-wrenching.
I also really enjoyed that there were side stories you could click to learn more. I felt that these really added another layer to the story to help you understand it more.
My Favorite Passages from The Boat
If she’d thought the first boat was crowded, here she could barely breathe, let alone move. Later she counted at least two hundred people, squashed into a space meant for fifteen.
After the storm it seemed to Mai that a film had been stripped from the world. The sun hotter, the light more vivid, the sea darker, every word a discordant affront to the new silence.
During his long absences at sea she had lived incompletely, waiting for him to come back so they could tell each other each moment of their time apart.
My Final Thoughts on The Boat
After reading this adaptation, I definitely want to read the full novel! I would definitely recommend giving this a read. Just make sure to prepare yourself. And grab the tissues