The Imitation Game by Jim Ottaviani

I saw this book reviewed somewhere online and immediately requested it from our library. I’m intrigued by Alan Turing and wanted to learn more about him.

Subtitle: Alan Turing Decoded

Illustrator: Leland Purvis

Published: 2016

Genre: nonfiction graphic novel biography

Length: 234 pages

Setting: England, early to mid-1900s

Summary: Short version: A biography of Alan Turing’s life

Long version: Ottaviani starts with Turing’s adolescence. Turing didn’t fit in well at school. He was too odd for the kids and didn’t like to follow the rules for the teachers. He was brilliant in mathematics, though. Being able to explain to others what was going on in his head was nearly impossible for him, though. He did get involved in solving the German Enigma code at Bletchley Park during WWII. To do so, he created machines to check for certain phrases in the coded messages received from the Germans. After the war, he continued to explore Charles Babbage’s analytical engine. At one point, he was brought up on charges related to homosexual behavior, which was illegal in England at the time. He was forced to go on hormone therapy, which caused many changes to his body. He died soon after.

Final thoughts: I find Alan Turing’s life to be rather sad. He didn’t seem to really find a niche for himself once the war was over. During the war, people were willing to put up with his eccentricities because he got results. After the war, they were much less patient with him. Then there is the fact that his “treatment” for homosexuality basically killed him. Who knows what brilliant things he would have come up with if he’d lived a few more decades.

The style of the graphic novel made it very easy to follow. Most pages are in the traditional six-panel style, although there’s enough variation to keep it from getting too repetitive. The art style is mostly realistic but not too detailed. Backgrounds in particular are more suggested than fleshed out. The most interesting feature of the story was the use of color to let you know who was narrating each scene. If the narration boxes were in yellow, they indicated Turing was talking. If the narration boxes were in pink, they indicated someone else was talking. Ottaviani had people in Turing’s orbit talk about their experiences with him, interspersed with his conversations and actions.

Title comes from: A paper Turing wrote about how to determine if computers can actually think

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since this was a graphic novel

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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