Sabrina is a fascinating graphic novel with an unusual plot. Built around the disappearance of a young woman, we follow the story not through the eyes of the victim or the investigators, but through the pain and suffering of those she’s left behind. Her boyfriend and sister are struggling to hold themselves together through the ensuing days and weeks, caught up in their own grief. This tragedy doesn’t bring anyone together, it only tears people further apart.
In the background a new lead on the case triggers a media furore that rapidly spins off into an internet-based whispering campaign. Conspiracy theorists dig into Sabrina’s disappearance and make giant leaps of assumption. However, even as readers with an inside view on the lives of key characters, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of it all and start questioning what we really know.
Drnaso’s art is so matter-of-fact that it disappears into the story, lubricating the flow of the plot. Clearly riffing off the likes of Chris Ware, with crisp, neat architecture in the background and simple, ligne claire characters in the foreground, the style is casually unsophisticated.
All in all it’s a unique take on a crime story, largely leaving the crime to the background and focusing instead on the relatives and friends of the victim, and those trying to support them through their grief. Dark, troubling and intensely thought-provoking, it’s a serious book that deserves your attention, particularly if you’re fond of literary graphic novels by the likes of Chris Ware and Dash Shaw.