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The End of the Fucking World


James and Alyssa have an early sexual encounter in The End of the Fucking World by Charles Forsman

Charles Forsman’s book has been available in the UK since it was first published by Fantagraphics in 2013, but following the Netflix adaptation of The End of the Fucking World (or The End of the Fxxxing World if you prefer its censored name), it has found itself a new home in the UK with Faber & Faber.

The story is a tightly packed thriller with a hard edge of teenage dysfunction. James is a damaged young man, capable of horrific acts of violence, well practised on harmless animals and his own body through years of a childhood scarred by a family history of mental illness. He falls in with Alyssa, a young woman from his school, who is attracted to his aura of detached otherworldliness and feels empowered by it.

A pertinent conversation between Alyssa and James in Charles Forsman's The End of the Fucking WorldTogether they flee from their lives and head off on the road to nowhere, but while they can run from their past, they can’t escape the prison of their own damaged spirits. Low level crime for the sake of survival and dignity soon turns more serious, as they break into the wrong empty house and get wrapped up in a series of violent events that spiral out of control.

Forsman’s style is deceptive, with little dialogue and a simplistic drawing style masking a depth of character, built up by layers of flashback, conversation and situational storytelling. While the plot is gently paced, it’s overflowing with casual brutality, leaping off the page with its fists at the ready, and delivering punches with its caustic wit and juxtaposition of horror and hope.

It’s not an easy read, psychologically, and won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s well worth a shot, particularly if you like troubled teenagers with a bleak future. Be warned, though, that these teenagers are more troubled than most, and the journey is designed to shock.

Story: 4 Art: 3 Overall: 4

Written by: Charles Forsman
Art by: Charles Forsman
Publisher: Faber & Faber (UK), Fantagraphics (US)
First published: 2013

Andy Shaw

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