Review of “When the Wind Blows” by Raymond Briggs

When the Wind Blows is a 1982 graphic novel depicting a nuclear attack on Britain by the USSR from the point of view of a benighted retired couple, Jim and Hilda Bloggs. Although some reviewers have complained that it is dated because the Cold War is over, I think one can easily imagine the same scenario with a different set of combatants. That must be the case, because I found it very frightening to read!

The pictures (up to 30 panels a page) are mesmerizing and the text is at turns humorous, poignant, and horrifying. I don’t think it spoils it to tell you that in the end, the couple dies of radiation poisoning. The story and the graphics are memorable whether you know what ultimately is to happen or not. This cautionary tale is similar to, but actually scarier than the dystopic books by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I highly recommend it for all those out there who are in dread of an apocalypse; Briggs has captured one brilliantly.

Rating: 5/5

Published by Schocken Books, 1982

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19 Responses to Review of “When the Wind Blows” by Raymond Briggs

  1. JoAnn says:

    Have you seen Brigg’s Ethel & Ernest, Jill? Although I haven’t read a lot of graphic novels, it is by far my favorite. I was shocked that a GN made me cry! Have been looking for this one ever since… no copies in my library system and I haven’t stumbled across it in my travels. So glad to hear you enjoyed it so much.

  2. Sandy says:

    Yikes. And I thought the graphic novel of The Stand was disturbing. There is something about the contrast between the mushroom cloud and the sweet, elderly couple that gives me the chills. BTW, we’re not all that trusting of the Russian government here in our house, so it isn’t such a big leap.

  3. Trisha says:

    This sounds fantastic. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. Belle says:

    I think I’m no longer an avowed avoider of dystopian novels – this looks good to me!

  5. zibilee says:

    I have never heard of this book, but it does sound awfully tempting to me. I haven’t dabbled much in graphic novels, but now is a good time to start! Thanks for the great review, and thank you also for posting some of the artwork so that I could get a feel for it.

  6. bermudaonion says:

    Well, this just might be relevant after the arrest of the Russian spies. I love the color panels and think the book sounds good.

  7. Aarti says:

    Wow, great! I have never heard of this one, either, but it sounds like a really great story! I love the juxtaposition of the old homey couple in very cutesy graphics living through an apocalypse.

  8. Emily says:

    Weird timing – I had an apocalypse dream last night! (Which also featured the government asking me to help the Hubble Telescope sort out its emotional problems.) I hadn’t heard of this book, but it looks compelling.

  9. Jenners says:

    Those drawings look so cutesy and happy … I wouldn’t have suspected a nuclear bomb story from them. Yikers. This kind of stuff freaks me out so I’m not sure I want to read it or not.

  10. Staci says:

    I’m always afraid that the world will stop….this book would probably give me a nightmare for sure.

  11. Nymeth says:

    I’ve been dying to read this ever since I read (and loved) his Ethel and Ernest last year. Thank you for reminding me that O need to get my hands on it!

  12. I am going to have to read this. Thanks. I’m not always up for GN’s, but you convinced me.

  13. Margot says:

    The first thing I saw on this post was the couple on the cover. I thought, “That’s Ethel and Ernest.” Then I checked the author and, sure enough, Raymond Briggs. I just finished E & E. My post is on Friday.) That was the story of the author’s parents so now I’m wonder if, in this story, he sees that all of this could have happened to them.

    I never thought I could be moved by a graphic novel but Raymond Briggs made me tear-up in Ethel and Ernest. Now I have to find this one.

  14. Valerie says:

    The only Raymond Briggs books I’m familiar with are the ones my kids had when they were young — “The Snowman” being one of them. So, I was able to recognize his graphic art right away.

    Even though the Russians are “supposedly” no longer a threat, nuclear war is always possible. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for this one.

  15. Anandan says:

    This sounds pretty good! I have to read this book

  16. Julie P. says:

    I agree that the subject matter could be timeless. I thought the illustrations reminded me of something — THE SNOWMAN.

  17. Nancy says:

    If you think the graphic novel is good (and frightening) – see if you can find the movie. It is priceless, music by David Bowie and voices by 2 famous British actors whose names escape me at the moment. I downloaded it from TV years ago and watch it at least once a year still. Hard to find on line, though.

  18. Nancy says:

    Sorry, the actors are Peggy Ashcroft and John Mills. Most amazing movie EVER !

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