Title: When the Wind Blows
Author: Raymond Briggs
Illustrator: Raymond Briggs
Genre: Graphic novel
Book format: Paperback
Description: Raymond Briggs’ now famous bestselling comic cartoon book depicts the effects of a nuclear attack on an elderly couple in his usual humorous yet macabre way.
Review: Set during the cold war James and Hilda Bloggs hear news of an attack planned on Britain by the Russians. They prepare for the fall out following government guidelines. And then the bomb falls…
This graphic novel is so disturbing and powerful it leaves you feeling sad and chilled to your core. The couple are a well meaning but not too knowledgeable pair and with little information on what to do during a nuclear attack they cope as best they can given their circumstances. I’ve not read many graphic novels and I did know the story of this before reading it, but still it left me feeling uncomfortable inside. This is a good thing, what happens to the couple is not wonderful, there is nothing happy or cheerful in a couple experiencing a nuclear bomb and the after effects of it.
This book is certainly not for kids as the ending is not a cheerful and happy one. I think anyone can imagine how the story pans out and that is not pleasant. What is so moving about this story though is the couple’s complete lack of knowledge, the two of them have no idea what is happening to them or everything around them, they cannot understand the effects of the fall out and the government advice was useless in educating them.
This story is so sad and yet it’s so powerful because it shows the truth of what’ll happen if nuclear weapons are ever used in this world. Although this was set and written in the time of the cold war such nuclear threats are still around today and this book offers an important message to everyone. The pictures of this graphic novel are all very well drawn, and despite being just pictures on paper I am really impressed with the effect certain images have. Occasionally there is a double page image of one thing, such as a submarine near the beginning. These images are so powerful and I really didn’t think I could be so moved by a graphic novel.
It’s a bit of a spoiler here but I found this line Hilda says about the effects of the nuclear bomb particularly poignant: ‘Well you can’t see it and can’t feel it, it can’t be doing you any harm, can it?’
I would recommend this book to anyone from teens and older, the sad story is just too much for children in my opinion. However I really think everyone should read this book or see the dvd, just be prepared to cry or feel disconnected afterwards.
-Review first appeared online July 2016 – now republished here.
Have you read or seen this story? What do you think of Raymond Briggs’ books? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂