Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Irreview, Book Review: Road to Perdition

So, first off, for those who don't know, Road to Perdition is my favorite movie of all time.  Near-perfect, in my opinion.  Its flaws are so minor, one must nitpick to expose them, and most won't even bother.  It is not a film designed to make you feel good, however, which (at least partially) explains why it's not a more popular film than it is.

That stated, it's the best movie ever.  I even wrote a term paper about it in film school.  Because I'm smart.

Anyway, after having seen the film multiple times, I acquired the original graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, a pulp/private eye writer of some note, whose work I had never read.  I was surprised by just how different the graphic novel is to the film (especially in regard to exactly how far the "road" actually was, and to the depiction and ultimate fate of Michael, Jr.).  In the end, though I quite like the source material, the movie remains the superior narrative.

This was all at least ten years ago.  Probably closer to fifteen, but who's counting?

Fast forward to 2017.  As I'm shopping Amazon for something (probably more books), the inevitable "Amazon recommendations" pop up, and I'm quite intrigued by one in particular: a book sequel to Road to Perdition called Road to Purgatory.

I was like, "Whaaaaat?"

I went down the rabbit hole of clicks and learned that there was a second novel adaptation of the movie, and two novel sequels to the graphic novel version of Road to Perdition (How does one annotate a graphic novel?  Underline?  Italics?  Remind me to look that up later.): the aforementioned Road to Purgatory and Road to Paradise.

And as it just so happened, Brash Books had published the updated adaptation (Collins had wanted to properly adapt the story in novel format -  the original was simply a novelization of the film - and Dreamworks finally let him) and had reprinted the first sequel, with the second sequel scheduled for the end of May, 2017 (a fact I only discovered a couple of days ago, at which point I promptly ordered my copy).

So I read it.

It's good.  It's not great, and it certainly takes getting used to Collins' comma-happy, run-on runs-on run-ons, but it's good.  Stylistically, he chose a weird pairing of diary type entries at the beginning of each chapter (from the perspective of Michael, Jr.) and traditional prose (albeit with run-on sentences form Hell) for the remainder of the book.  This also took some getting used to, but once I was about halfway through the book, I didn't really mind it.

There are some added moments for the main characters from the film, as well as some new supporting characters (some of which appear in the film's deleted scenes) that help to add color to the narrative and ground the story in reality.

But, despite Road to Perdition topping my favorite films list, Road to Perdition doesn't come anywhere near my favorite books list.  I'm doubting it even sits in my top 100.  Granted, I used to read a lot, so maybe that's not such a big deal.

Anyway, if you like the movie and/or the graphic novel, and are interested in the further adventures of Michael, Jr., it's worth a read.  I am, I'll admit, anxious to read Road to Purgatory, but I have to read a history of forensics first (for work and all that boring shit).

For those interested, there are apparently several comic book sequels to the original graphic novel, as well.  I have not read any of them, however, though I hope to in the near future.

I'm going to give Road to Perdition 3 stars (out of 5) for style, and 4 stars for story.  That's an Irre(x2) Aggregate of 12 (I'll explain later).

I should really get graphics made.


Edit: Adjusted the star ratings to reflect my brand-spanking-new rating system.  I'll explain that shit in a later post. :)


  1. Regardless of your opinion of Collins work, he did give you a mention in his blog as well as on Goodreads. He's a nice guy, answers email too (with fewer run-on's than his characters). Check out the Nate Heller novels. You'll like them (I'd bet).

    1. I do plan on checking out the Nitti trilogy and I have sent him an email. Thank you for stopping by! :)