The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice
by Mike Carey
Cover Artist: Yuko Shimizu
Review by Gayle Surrette
Vertigo Kindle Edition ISBN/ITEM#: B00DD1JYR8
Date: 24 September 2013
Tommy Taylor's father is writing a story about a boy wizard called Tommy Taylor. In this the first volume, we learn that the naming wasn't a mistake. Tommy's father always intended for the public to confuse the two -- the boy and the fiction. In fact, he essentially took the basic framework of popular fiction and wrote a story that he felt would be guaranteed to be successful -- especially if he tied in the life of his soon to be born son. It's not entirely clear as you read the story he's writing that Tommy's father can actually recognize that there is a difference between reality and fiction when it comes to his son.
The story moves between the adventure of Tommy, the boy wizard, and the author setting up the publicity to draw the attention of the reading public to Tommy, his son. There's a lot philosophizing about writing as art and passion and how it interacts with the life of the author and how readers react and interact with the work, the author, and the story. In this particular story of Tommy, the wizard boy, his parents have been lost at sea and he's being raised by a wizard friend of his father's at a school for young wizards. In real life, Tommy is born and his parents have relationship problems that cause a lot of tension between them. The two stories are not necessarily parallel but the basic structure of one resonates with the other plot line.
The art differentiates between the fictional story of Tommy, at the wizard school, and Tommy's father and his life while he's writing the story. The art keeps the reader aware of which world the readers is viewing as it moves from one plot line to the other.
I was fascinated by the interplay of the two story lines and, while both were enthralling, I was more drawn to the author's story line because, in many ways, Tommy was the child with the life that a reader can tell will be more problematical as he grows and matures. There may not be as much of a chance for the 'real' Tommy to have a happy ending as it is for the fictional one.