“Then consider the effect of sex—how between man and woman it hangs wavy, tremulous, so that here’s a valley, there’s a peak, when in truth, perhaps, all’s as flat as my hand.” — Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room
I just read the first eight issues of Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn. It is such a good love story. It has obstacles, restraint, yearning, loneliness, microexpressions, pauses, misunderstandings, tiny moments of connection, and deadpan humor.
The book is incredibly deadpan. It is bland unto deadpan, by design. The interiors, the clothing, the faces, the overall look of the book—all of it is low affect. You have to step inside this world and quiet yourself down to its level. Then when you are in tune with its rhythms and routines, you understand its intensity, and you feel every upward curve of a mouth, every little gleam.
Like a character says in issue #8, Alex and Ada have all the information that they want each other, but they don’t know how to make the connection. It doesn’t matter that Alex is human and Ada is a newly sentient robot. They have an equally hard time with love and intimacy and in this issue it’s Alex who automatically throws up barriers when Ada wants to get closer.
The similarities between humans and robots is what makes this book an engaging social commentary and not just a satisfying love story.
Remember the opening scenes of Shaun of the Dead, when ordinary people are shuffling through their lives as mindlessly as zombies? Alex + Ada does a similar thing, but makes human life so clinical, efficient, and virtual that the human characters might as well be androids.
When Alex has Ada’s sentience “unblocked,” her joy in life and sensory input rubs off on him, and we can see how badly he needed to be woken up too.
Anyway, this book is a slow burn love story that will make you want to taste life. Highly recommend.