Summary: The apocalypse that was announced a year ago will finally not take place! While all of humanity is celebrating the news, Magda, 14, is devastated. Why? To understand, we must go back to the day when Magda decides that she will die without regrets. From awkward loves to artificial paradises, with the countdown of the seasons, the young girl discovers herself in a world of adults overwhelmed by events.
L’Apocalypse selon Magda, by Chloé Vollmer-Lo and Carole Maurel 8.0
One day our world will end. Oh, it’s scheduled for approximately a billion years from now, when the sun becomes so hot that life will not be sustainable here. So we don’t really have to worry about it. A billion years? We’ll have escaped to the stars well before then.
But imagine that the end of the world was announced for a year from now.
What would that look like? How would people react to such an announcement?
Well, 14-year-old Magda hasn’t quite grasped the meaning of it. All she knows is that the world around her is shifting: her father has left their family for another woman, one of her closest friends is exhibiting self-destructive behaviour, shops are closing down.
‘L’Apocalypse selon Magda’ is a coming-of-age story that’s set during its protagonist’s final days: Magda’s relationships with her family and friends change, develop, she gets her first period, explores her sexuality, and learns a few life lessons along the way.
Told in flashback, over the course of four seasons, it begins with Magda waiting in a car, hearing on the radio the news that the end of the world is not nigh after all. Everyone is rejoicing, relieved, but she’s not: she’s upset. Something appears to be not quite right.
Her reaction is rooted in the actions she’s taken in previous months, in the life she’d chosen for herself, knowing that she didn’t have long to live. Though she hadn’t exactly gone astray or done anything to be ashamed of, Magda has a very difference take on it.
Personally, I found ‘L’Apocalypse’ very interesting, rooted as it is from a female perspective – and a 14-year-old’s at that. In particular, we don’t ever get a more global sense of what’s going on – we strictly see the events through Magda’s very limited lens.
Through the “minor” events that affect her.
I enjoyed that there were a lot of silences, many panels of contemplation, as Magda -and we- take the events in. The dialogues were also delivered simply, as one might expect from a young teenaged girl – even though it can be filled with subtext and things left unsaid.
Similarly, the art is a bit sketchy, lacking exactitude at times, with the lines rarely even. And yet it’s a very attractive book, resplendent in colour. The whole effect is sort of laid-back, intimate, which is perfectly-suited to the protagonist and material.
All told, I was very pleased with ‘L’Apocalypse selon Magda’; it’s a mature and affecting work even though it’s simple in nature. I’m not sure what else Vollmer-Lo and Maurel have been up to, but I’ll be keeping them on my radar. They certainly have a bright future ahead.
Post scriptum: What would you do if you only had a year left?