The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim

1The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
170 Pages

The Eternal Smile arrived in my mailbox yesterday and I quickly zipped through it. I fell in love with Yang’s work instantly after reading American Born Chinese and knew that he would be one of those authors that I’d follow throughout his career right away. He’s a master of the modern graphic novel. His stories tend to be moving, comical and extremely relevant. These are no exception.

The Eternal Smile tells three different stories, yet they all have a uniting theme. Searching for an answer, looking for a better way of life, hoping for a way to cure life’s woes. We’ve all been there at times and Yang empathizes with us through these three unique stories.

The first story is Duncan’s Kingdom. This story tells the tale of a young boy who is living4 in a fantasy world where he must bring back the head of a frog in order to avenge a princess’ father’s death and earn her hand in marriage. But there is something that distracts him along the way which eventually leads him to discover the true meaning of his quest. This is perhaps my favorite type of story…a tale that tackles the subject of emotional trauma through the escape of fairy tales. As Yang did with American Born Chinese, he surprised me with the ending. He does that with the next story as well.

2Second story is entitled Gran’pa Greenbax and The Eternal Smile. This story centers around a frog that has a hunger for money. A hunger that is insatiable. When he gets all of the money in the world, he still isn’t satisfied…he just wants more. And it doesn’t matter to him what he does to get it or how it affects those around him. He’s run out of ways to make money until his assistant finds something beautiful, an eternal smile. It’s a smile that sits in the sky in the desert. The frog finds a way to make money off of this wonder by opening “the church of the eternal smile” and soliciting donations through his evangelical ways. But he is soon to learn that all of the money can’t make him a happy person. Another fantastic story.

Finally, we have a story told through delicate art that is just so beautiful called Urgent 3Request. In this story, a young girl is unhappy at her job. She dedicates all of her time to her job but when she asks her boss for a raise and promotion, she is denied it and dismissed. She goes back to her desk and gets one of those spam emails from a “prince in Nigeria” who wants her to just send her banking information so that he can transfer $350,000,000 into her account. And she may be the only person in the world who falls for it. But in doing so, she makes friends with the sender of the emails and gets lost in a dream world that offers her every wish. This was a sad little story, but I rather liked it.

All of these tales are wonderfully told with the help of Derek Kirk Kim. The art in the book is truly amazing. Each story has a very distinct art style and I truly LOVED the art in Urgent Request. The use of soft colors and mini characters really made the story have that much more of an effect on the reader. I can’t wait to see the rest of the blogging world discover this treasure of a book. I smell Printz possibilities again!


14 Responses

  1. I completely loved ABC – the art, the way that the 3 stories were intertwined. This looks like another winner, though (judging each story by its cover) I think I’ll like “Urgent Request” best. One more for the ever-growing TBR list.

  2. I think I’ll really love this book, also American Born Chinese. Will look for them in the library. Have you read Kampung Boy by Lat? You might like it. Also its sequel, Town Boy.

  3. Ooooo…somehow I missed that this was out already! Must order soon.

  4. Must. Have.

    Just from the tease you gave, I can just tell I’m going to love the art in Urgent Request, too.

  5. Thanks for the list and this review! How can I resist if both you *and* Nymeth are fans!!

    ‘Course, I’m putting the Tori Amos songs = GN first on my list. I’ve been a fan of Tori since my college years. She is one of my all time favorite concert performers. I’m totally stoked about this one.

  6. The Eternal Smile is on my wish list!

    BTW, everything distils into reading is my new blog. Please do visit it, subscribe to it or follow it! Do help me spread the word.

  7. I definitely will have to check these out 🙂

  8. Lily, I think the first story in the book was my favorite, but the art in the last one was by FAR my favorite. It was just perfect. I think you’ll like this one…especialy if you enjoyed ABC!

    Claire, I hadn’t even heard of Kampung Boy! I’ll definitely have to check that one out now! Definitely read these…they’re fantastic!

    Nymeth, And you’re the one who told me about it! Psht :p Yep, go order it!

    Debi, You’ll definitely like it..beautiful book!

    Christina, Oh good! I’m so glad when I can tell Tori fans about this 🙂 You’ll appreciate it so much more! I’ve only seen her twice in concert, but I agree…she’s just amazing. She gives me goosebumps. You’ll love this one!

    Gautami, Oh I’m so glad that you got your blog set up again!!! I’ll spread a link for you..just posted my sunday salon, but maybe I can go edit it!

    Lu, Definitely do! It’s great 🙂

  9. This arrived in my mailbox this week, too! I can’t wait to read it, I absolutely loved American Born Chinese and am so excited to see what The Eternal Smile has in store for us.

  10. Ohh I cannot wait to read this one! It looks so good, I like how each story has it’s own style of art. I’m just now reading PopGun Volume 1 and it’s described as a graphic novel mix-tape – all the shorts are from different creators and that makes it so enjoyable and fun.

  11. awww I love the look of Urgent Request!that alone would make me want to read this book right now!

  12. Looks a great GN! Even though I’ve not got around to getting American Born Chinese just yet, I have a feeling that this one is going on the wishlist anyway! 😀

    Like everyone else, it seems, I think, Urgent Request, looks gorgeous.

  13. […] reviews: Chasing Ray, Book Addiction, things mean a lot, Stuff As Dreams Are Made On. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)EMM SHOW YOUR SMILE! What makes you smile? Spend […]

  14. […] reviews: Chasing Ray, Book Addiction, things mean a lot, Stuff As Dreams Are Made On. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Eternal Smile will show you the wayWalk that […]

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