Review – Thumbprint by Joe Hill and Jason Ciaramella

Title: Thumbprint

Author: Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella, Vic Malhotra (Illustrator)

Stars: * *

Genre: Graphic Novel, Murder Mystery, Horror

Cover - Thumbprint

Today’s review is a bit shorter than normal and not in my usual style because I do not have a whole lot to say about Thumbprint. I received a copy of this graphic novel off of Net Galley, so I wanted to make sure that I completed a review. However, I didn’t actually enjoy the book all that much. There isn’t much objectively wrong with Thumbprint, it’s just not what I expected from Joe Hill. I am a big fan of his Locke and Key series, but his fantasy-horror books have nothing to do with this latest war-based work.

Thumbprint is the story of a woman soldier coming home from the war in Iraq after having done horrible things. She’s got PTSD and flashbacks, and is absolutely convinced that someone is out to get her. As it turns out, the threats that she is receiving are not a paranoid delusion, and part of her past life is coming back to hurt her.

It’s not that the story in Thumbprint is necessarily uncompelling, it’s just that I’ve read similar tales before and this one isn’t really giving readers a new perspective. There’s a lot of graphic violence and shock tactics in use, but I’ve seen these things before, and frankly, their use in stories is starting to strike me as a bit gratuitous. The biggest weakness of Thumbprint is that its grand message is not particularly grand. Human cruelty is a reality, and war messes people up quite badly. I would have appreciated a theme that was a bit more subtle and nuanced, and an ending that was clearer in what it was trying to convey.

All of the above being said, there are people out there who are going to love Thumbprint. In many ways, it is a short and powerful work. It didn’t do much for me, but I am already very familiar with the horrors of war (thank you, political science background and general news junkieness). There are those for whom this will be a new and horrifying story, and this book may be a five-star read for them. However, this review should serve as a warning to those who are coming in because they love Joe Hill’s work in general. This is not Locke and Key, and you will be disappointed if you are looking for a similar story in this book.