#CBR7 Review #160: The Sandman (Vol. 5): A Game of You by Neil Gaiman

Now that I’ve made it through several volumes of the Sandman series, I am beginning to understand the volumes that I like and those that I just don’t as much. I’m learning that I really, really enjoy the “disconnected” stories that make the collection feel like a collection of short stories more than I do when the volume is linked together by a series of building episodes. A Game of You featured a continuous story that “connects” Dream/Morpheus’s narrative, but it’s not my favorite in the overall series.

A Game of You returns to Barbie from The Doll’s House. Barbie has broken up with her longtime boyfriend Ken. She is a bit adrift, and she finds that she’s not able to dream. Her friend Wanda tries to help her break out of her despair, but when a neighborhood threat haunts the building’s dreams, it is Thessaily, the eccentric woman who is actually way older than she seems, who intervenes. She and lesbian couple Foxglove and Hazel take the moon’s path to try and rescue Barbie from the Cuckoo, who has inhabited her person and threatens to take over Barbie completely.

This is a strange tale, as Barbie’s childhood stuffed animals become characters in the bizarre dream. Nevertheless, it’s a strangeness that strikes a chord with any of us who has ever dreamed a strange-yet-realistic dream. Wanda is perhaps the most interesting character in this volume. Described as a drag queen, I believe she’s actually a pre-op transgender woman. Gaiman treats all the women in this collection with incredible dignity and realism, and Wanda is given a backstory that helps us understand the kinds of struggles that one undergoes when there is a disconnect between biological body and gendered body. While the overall story is not my favorite, I still find it an important and influential narrative to read.

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