“In April of 2003, four lions escaped the Baghdad Zoo during the bombing of Iraq.”
Based on a true story, this graphic novel follows the path of a pride of lions as they escape from Baghdad Zoo, and the struggles that they experience in living free. It becomes a metaphor for all the families that have been displaced by modern wars struggling to stay safe and to survive in a strange land.
The discussions of what it means to be free, and the costs of regime changes in general, are all caught in the conflicts that the lions find themselves in, from the internal conflicts of what principles are expendable in order to survive, to the physical devastation all around them, and from the conflict beyond their control, to the physical confrontations with other animals.
What makes the book particularly interesting is that it gives us a chance to look at the peculiar human habit of war from the perspectives of innocents who have no idea of why any sane creature would engage in this sort of behaviour. So much so that, when we see the first humans in page two, it is incredibly jarring, and you question the behaviour of these supposed higher animals.
The opening and closing of the novel being set to a bird observing the story part of it but free from its impact is a nice image of the reader part of the story yet apart from it with the same breath. The bird is present at all the moments that humans know the facts for and the tale in between focused as it is on freedom is both poignant and sad.
The book is full of questions which make it an excellent and addictive read.