Book Review: Big Questions by Anders Nilsen

big questions

By: Fran Hoepfner

Because it's spring, and we're all in need of a change of pace, I'm back this month with a different sort of recommendation. Here's a book about philosophy, a book about love, a book about the end of the world and a book about new life. It's so many things, packed into hundreds of pages, and guess what? It's also all cartoons. For April, I'm wholeheartedly recommending Anders Nilsen's graphic novel, Big Questions.

With this book, you're getting exactly what you're promised. Over the course of an epic, Nilsen depicts a small group of birds that live on the edge of a forest, debating questions. Some are minimal and silly; other questions span time and space. If it sounds a little ridiculous, well, maybe wonder if it's the most palatable way to understand things like life and death, through the voice of a tiny cartoon bird. It all begins when a plane crashes in the field, causing the birds (as well as the snakes and the crows and all the other animals and, yes, even the humans) to wonder where something like this came from.

Big Questions is a challenging read, but not in the way it's presented. The conversations are funny and casual. The birds have sweet and distinguishable personalities. In fact, the whole thing reads very quickly and is a delight throughout. But it's also very emotionally weighty and complex. It calls into question everything we as humans take for granted, and like the many birds in the field, we're often left with more questions than we had in the first place.