English mathematician and scientist Alan Turing (1912–1954) is credited with many of the foundational principles of contemporary computer science. The Imitation Game presents a historically accurate graphic novel biography of Turing’s life, including his groundbreaking work on the fundamentals of cryptography and artificial intelligence. His code breaking efforts led to the cracking of the German Enigma during World War II, work that saved countless lives and accelerated the Allied defeat of the Nazis. While Turing’s achievements remain relevant decades after his death, the story of his life in post-war Europe continues to fascinate audiences today.
Award-winning duo Jim Ottaviani (the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Feynman and Primates) and artist Leland Purvis (an Eisner and Ignatz Award nominee and occasional reviewer for the Comics Journal) present a factually detailed account of Turing’s life and groundbreaking research—as an unconventional genius who was arrested, tried, convicted, and punished for his openly gay lifestyle, and whose innovative work still fuels the computing and communication systems that define our modern world. Computer science buffs, comics fans, and history aficionados will be captivated by this riveting and tragic story of one of the 20th century’s most unsung heroes.
Description taken from Goodreads.
As someone who ‘does’ the whole computer science thing, it’s really exciting for me to see technology and its history coming through to genres like YA lit, and when I saw this graphic novel at last year’s BEA, I had to pick it up and try it out. However, as much as I hate to say it, you’re probably better off watching the movie on this one.
I had just one major problem with The Imitation Game, but it was enough to make me want to DNF numerous times throughout the book. It had to do with the interview format.
While I did feel that the book did a good job of explaining Alan Turing’s accomplishments in ways that were easy to understand, I also felt that the story was slow and bogged-down by the interview style. Like other reviewers have noted, I wasn’t quite sure why The Imitation Game was done that way and felt like it could’ve been much more effective had it been done in the style of Maus or other similar graphic novels.
I won’t call it a problem, but the other thing about this book I wanted to bring up was how it dealt with the LGBT aspect of Turing’s life. It does talk about how Turing was treated and the injustices he suffered, but it also glosses over the issue quite a bit. Regardless of beliefs about the LGBT topic, what happened to Turing wasn’t right in the slightest, but there’s a few ways to think about what happened in The Imitation Game.
On one hand, to skim past the way Turing was treated is like leaving wars and horrible acts of violence out of history books.
On the other hand, the book does address that part of Turing’s history, and this may be a good way for children to learn more about Alan Turing and his accomplishments without getting into the politics of sexuality. In that way, I think it’s important to decide whether reading this book is right for you or your child as a personal decision.
All in all, I’d really have to weigh situation when recommending this. The pacing and the narration really didn’t cut it for me, and they made a topic that I usually find very interesting boring. If you’re trying to write a research paper and need some pictures or unique sources, then by all means, go for it. It does a good job of covering the facts of Turing’s early, work, and impact, and it’s got solid facts in it. I’d also consider how much of Turing’s personal life someone would want to know in reading about him. I didn’t love it, but may or may not end up recommending. 1.5 stars.