Ottaviani’s dense but highly readable account braids the implacable advance of Hawking’s ALS with his determination to not let his impaired body imprison his beautiful mind. Stops along the way provide helpful side notes on subjects such as relativity to ease understanding of the awesomely brain-twisting reality screws that the book indulges. All of this brightly illustrates the universe-spanning leaps Hawking’s mind took even while his body was confined to a motorized wheelchair and his voice replicated via computer monotone. This might be an illustrated biography, but it’s no children’s book ... details help humanize a man too often remembered for what he did and not who he was.
There's little to surprise in Hawking, especially if you know a bit about the subject's life and have a spitting acquaintance with his ideas. But Ottaviani finds a nice balance between the personal and the theoretical, making this a diverting account despite the familiarity of Hawking's biography ... Along with managing to explain—sans equations—why we should care about black holes and pocket universes, he relates Hawking's life without becoming either sensationalistic or mawkish ... Ottaviani doesn't omit the unlovely aspects of Hawking's personality and private life. While he skates over the details of Hawking's marital troubles, only indirectly alluding to the '90s rumors that his second wife abused him, this restraint feels appropriate. It's offset by a frank, nuanced treatment of his first wife's experiences ... Ottaviani conveys all these layers with delicacy. The same can't be said of Myrick's art, though. Although he does a lovely job illustrating Hawking's theories, his drawings are workmanlike otherwise. It's a real letdown for a narrative that manages to interweave emotional moments with speculations about imploding stars—while omitting all those nefarious equations ... Aside from a lot of physics, Ottaviani doesn't really tell us what was going on inside Hawking's head. But he does prompt us to reflect on what we've got going on in our own.
The conversational, generally linear narrative starts out simply enough but quickly becomes a catalogue of Hawking's many famous contemporaries and the leading theories of the day, which influenced, and were influenced by, Hawking's own work. His personal life is covered as well but is secondary to his achievements. Loose, scratchy linework and bold, high-saturation colors reflect Hawking's bold ways of thinking about the universe. An author's note indicates that though the book is nonfiction, some details were changed to improve the flow of the story ... Packed with scientific theory, this graphic biography of a scientific luminary will appeal to budding physics and cosmology enthusiasts.
Ottaviani spends a lot of time going over the history of physics and the various discoveries made along the way, and while that background is essential to understanding Hawking’s work and impact on science, it can occasionally overshadow the complicated and challenging life story some readers might be after. In his full-color, fine-lined artwork that balances appealingly between angularly cartoonish and realistic depiction, Myrick does an admirable job of illustrating the various complicated concepts and theories that Hawking envisioned, as well as of attempting to visualize the many scientific conversations and debates that Hawking had with his colleagues and inside his own mind. While scientific concepts may wash over some people, the touching portrayals of Hawking with his family and his struggles dealing with his degenerative condition will certainly stay. A well-rounded study of physics and one of its brightest stars.
This layered graphic biography of the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking presents a heroic yet nuanced portrait of the 20th century’s second-most famous scientist ... dramatically angled but simplistic artwork ... Hawking’s divorces and emotional distance from his family are poignantly represented, but the story remains about science, which is delivered in an accessible form yet hardly watered down. This smart and wondrously exploratory scientific biography reveals as much about black holes as the man who explored them.
... [a] fluent, fun graphic biography ... Readers new to Hawking’s ideas, and particularly his enigmatic musings about the nature of time, will find this book, cartoonish as it is, to be full of insight; the science is sharp and to the point. And there are moments of good humor and beauty alike, especially in the vision of Hawking ascending, godlike, toward the event horizon, taking his place in the heavens. Every world-changing scientist deserves such an entertaining but factually rich treatment.