The Motherless Oven is a graphic novel coming of age story written and illustrated by British comic book writer and artist Rob Davis. It is 160 pages long and was published by Self-Made Hero in 2014. The Motherless Oven is set in a strange world where it rains knives, there are no birthdays, the wind laughs at you, household appliances have souls and talk in riddles, children construct their parents out of everyday objects like can openers and hairdryers and you're expected to drop dead on your deathday.
Scraper Lee is a regular teenage boy who lives with his Mum and Dad. He made his mum out of a hairdryer and his dad is a wind-powered brass construction with a billowing sail that lives in his shed. Scraper is very proud of the dad that he made. He polishes him every day and spends his weekends cleaning his lungs and fixing the seals on his heart. Scraper goes to school and has a few friends but is not a very sociable person. His favourite thing to do is to stay in at night. He likes to sit on the couch and sip from a cup of tea while he listens to the rain stab the ground outside.
There's just one thing hanging over his head.
Just one thing that is on his mind.
His deathday is just three weeks away.
In Scraper's world, there are no birthdays, just deathdays. On your deathday, you are destined to die. There is no escaping it. It's not explained how people know that their deathdays are coming. Scraper's always known when his death was due. He tries to pretend that he's not bothered by it and for the most part he isn't. But there's this little voice inside him that keeps thinking…why him? He's still just a kid. Why does he have to die before he finishes high school? Who decides these things?
What if he doesn't want to die?
Can he escape his deathday?
The Motherless Oven was the weirdest and the most original graphic novel I have ever read. It was like nothing else I've ever read before. It was confusing and unsettling and odd but it hooked me. So many questions popped into my head when I was reading this book.
Is Scraper's world real or some sort of holodeck simulation?
Is it a parallel dimension?
Is it some sort of prison?
Is it a human zoo?
Who is pulling the puppet strings?
Is there a way to escape?
The Motherless Oven wasn't the best book I've ever read but it sure was unique. I'm surprised it hasn't been adapted into a TV show yet. It had some stunning visuals in it like when Scraper opens his front door to see a girl he knows from school standing on his doorstep smiling and holding a table above her head while knives fall from the sky all around her in sheets of stabbing rain.
The Motherless Oven is the first book in a planned trilogy. A sequel called The Can Opener's Daughter was released in 2016. If you enjoy science fiction and want to read something bursting with invention and original ideas, I suggest you give The Motherless Oven a go.