The Divine by Boaz Lavie; art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka
Date read: 22 May 2017; re-read 12 June 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Paperback, 149 pages
Published 2015 (First ed.) by First Second
Source: Interlibrary Loan, Summit [Univ. of Oregon PN6790.I73 L38 2015]
[5 June] Great! I don’t even remember most of this book. Just spent time flipping through it and not much is triggering anything.
[13 June] My body has been betraying me for a couple weeks and the day I read this was one of the worst. I was doing a lot of self-medicating then so it seems fair. I am sure I don’t remember much of anything I read that day. So I re-read it last night. As I actually re-read a good portion came back but a re-read definitely made a review possible. Thankfully it only took me about 40 minutes.
The contributors’ statement gives a good overview. The artists (Asaf and Tomer Hanuka) are also twin brothers:
“In January 2000, Associated Press photographer Apichart Weerawong took a photo of two twelve-year-old twins. It was taken immediately following the raid of a hospital by the Thai army, where those twins held 800 people as hostages. Weerawong’s photo was quickly distributed all over the world, becoming and unparalleled image of childhood without childhood: chain-smoking child-soldiers, their eyes as tired as if they were fifty years older. Like many others, we were captivated by this photo. For several years we would take a look at it from time to time, trying to decipher it, learn something about childhood, about life in extreme circumstances, and about ourselves.
The twins in the photo are Johnny and Luther Htoo. During the late 1990s they led a group of hundreds of Karen refuges from east Burma, called “God’s Army,” and fought the Burmese army for dispossessing them from their lands. The Htoo twins were surrounded by legends: it was said that they had magical powers, that they were invulnerable to bullets and mines, that they knew the Bible by heart without even reading it once. When we started working on the book, we drew our very first inspiration from these legends and from Weerawong’s photo, but we took it to a place which is completely our own: it has become fiction. Luther now lives in Sweden, and Johnny lives in a Thai refugee camp, waiting to reunite with his mother in New Zealand. For us, however, they will always be twelve-year-olds, in a photo we’ll never quite understand.”
Asaf, Boaz, and Tomer, 2014
The artist twins  were ~26-years-old when the photo was published, for context.
As they said, it is a fictional riffing off of “God’s Army.”
For an even less rosy view, see Wikipedia: God’s Army (revolutionary group)
From the story itself:
About the twins:
“Everyone calls them “The Divine.”” … “They are brothers to dragons and companions to owls.” 78
Right before all hell breaks loose:
“I love Quanlom nights?”
“You know what they say about the nights here?”
“Night is a blessing, until you come across someone with better eyesight.” 102
Recently married explosives expert with a pregnant wife takes a hush hush government contract job in a remote country with which we have no diplomatic relations for a goodly sum of cash.
A dragon. Magic. Belief. Naming. Justice. War. Greed. The fallout.
I did quite enjoy this. Both times I read it. Recommended but not for the faint of heart. Features/contains cruelty, callousness, child-soldiers, wanton killing and some torture.
This is the 11th book read and 12th reviewed in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]