Einstein: The Poetry of Real

Authors: Manuel García Iglesias and Marwan Kahil
Year: 2019
ISBN: 978-1-6811-2202-1 (ebook)
Publisher: NBM Graphic Novels
Goodreads Rating: 2/5 stars
Content Warnings: references to the holocaust

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Einstein: The Poetry of Real tells the story of arguably the most famous scientists in modern memory. Albert Einstein traced his fascination with physics and the mechanics of the universe to a gift from his father. To keep him occupied during an illness, Einstein received a compass. After realizing that the needle would always point north regardless of where the base is, the young Einstein began to wonder about the universe itself.

Marwan Kahil and Manuel García Iglesias worked together to bring this story to life. This graphic novel offers a visual interpretation of Einstein’s life. An interesting framing device that the authors use is one of Einstein’s students, Mark. I’m not sure if this character is based on a real student of his, but this character nonetheless creates a thematic thread that comes full circle in the last pages.

If you’re looking for an in-depth look at Albert Einstein, warts and all, that’s not what you’re going to get here. It’s a good biography that I’d say is appropriate for younger readers interested in science. While I found it surface-level, I can see this on a middle schooler’s shelf. For readers interested in a more in-depth experience, The Poetry of Real offers a recommended reading list at the end.

I think my biggest issue with this book is that it tries to be both an explanation of Einstein’s theories and a dramatization of his life. As a result, both of those goals feel underdeveloped. Several philosophers and scientist show up without a proper introduction, creating the need for footnotes. On the other hand, the science flew a bit over my head as well. Some events showed up briefly but were so fleeting that I couldn’t process them (Einstein’s second wife was also his cousin once-removed, for example). Had Kahil and Iglesias focused more on Einstein’s life without trying to go in-depth on the science, I think that would have made for a better experience. The wall of text needed to explain relativity in its nuance isn’t quite compatible with the graphic novel format.

However, I thought this book was visually delightful. I don’t know exactly what it is about Iglesias’ art style that I like so much, but it was the perfect tonal fit for the story. It almost looks like the whole book could have been sketched on someone’s lecture notes. The art style is somehow both simple and complex, and I think it was my favorite part of this book.

Einstein: The Poetry of Real is a good book for people who want to learn more about Einstein, but don’t quite know where to start. It is far from a complete story, so reading it will leave you with more questions than answers. Then again, perhaps that’s a testament to the man himself.

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