Death Sentence is a graphic novel written by Monty Nero and illustrated by Mike Dowling. In a nutshell, the book is about people who contract a sexually transmitted disease giving them superpowers. The downside to this virus? The infected have about six months to live before their bodies wear out. So the question begs, what would you do with only six months to live, having the ability to do just about anything you wanted?
The story starts off with Verity Fette visiting a psychologist who tells her, You can either do something with what remains of your life... or spend the next six months waiting to die. Verity who is a graphic artist by profession falls into despair questioning what is the point of doing anything at all. After she is gone, the world will still go on, people will mourn for a day or two, and then she will be forgotten. Consequently, the remainder of her story revolves around her finding a purpose or a reason to get out of bed in the morning and live each day, each breath a step closer to the end.
Midway through the book after waking up in the middle of the night, she thinks to herself:
I'm dying. And no-one can stop it happening... You know the worst thing about waking in the dead of night? That blank half moment before memory washes back like a dark tidal swell. In that moment of emptiness you're not truly alive--you're an automaton: neither doing, nor thinking--a bag of blood and gristle and nerves and neurons. You're just a gene machine, built to breed and die--Another pointless vessel in a sea of meaninglessness. So what do you do in the face of nihilism? Invent God? Get shit-faced? End it all? Or strive for purpose on purely mortal terms. Create meaning right here--right now-on earth?
Verity then goes on to continue thinking how one day she gave up on her dreams and took a desk job, watching slowly each day her dreams fading away into oblivion—wishing she could just leave something which would resonate throughout eternity, make her life mean something to the world.
Later Verity would end up in a government facility, one which was trying to create a vaccine or cure for the virus. Not wanting to get out of bed, she asks one of the facilitators, what's the point? Even if she paints like Picasso, nothing changes, she is still going to die. The facilitator struggles to answer, simply saying Well uh... it's life... it's what we do... The scene then cuts way to the super-villain, Monty, appearing on TV explaining why he is doing what he is doing (destroying London, having massive orgies, and killing people). He illustrates that he is just trying to experience as much as possible before he dies, fulfilling his life with meaning. Monty, who hears the thoughts of everyone, and can control the minds of everyone becomes disgusted by the number of people who have wasted their lives on dribble such as Xbox, TV, food, etc.
So we see a dichotomy, the hero to be, and the super-villain taking entirely different and opposite existential approaches to having only six months left to live. One wants only to do nothing, and the other wants to experience everything. There is a third hero to be/rockstar, Weasel, who lies somewhere in the middle—wanting nothing more than to create music, and wanting more than anything to get high on drugs.
Verity still ends up with a nihilistic point of view on purpose—sex, the redemptive recombination of DNA reversing entropy, and holding the keys to immortality. That is... at least before she explodes into an epic piece of art, saving the world with Weasel, doing something that would prove she existed, and having a lasting effect on history, something that actually meant something to someone, to show the world what she has been dreaming inside for all these years. Life...is just chemistry! Yet, as Verity would prove, we can still have a lasting impact on history.
Overall, the graphic novel was a good read. Quite crass and not safe for work; described by some as misogynistic, and by others as a unique look on the meaning of life. Real people struggle to cope with real issues, such as, mortality, purpose, and humanity's true potential.
Overall, we rate the book a 7 out of 10. If you like the site, help us by purchasing the book on Amazon.