DUCKS Review

New York Times bestselling cartoonist, Kate Beaton, produced her first full length graphic narrative in 2022 to wonderous acclaim. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands follows her own exploits as a young college grad as she ventured to work in the harsh oil fields of Alberta with the singular goal of paying off her student loans. Katie encounters the harsh reality of life in the oil sands, where trauma is an everyday occurrence yet is never discussed. It is also very much a story of Canada: a country that prides itself on its egalitarian ethos and natural beauty while simultaneously exploiting both the riches of its land and the humanity of its people.

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By Kate Beaton

  • Original Graphic Novel 
  • Publisher : Drawn & Quarterly 
  • Release : 9/13/2022
  • Softcover : 436 pages
  • Dimensions : 7.3″ x 9.3″
  • Reading Age : 16+ years
  • MSRP : $39.99

Our take:

Kate Beaton’s new book, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, is a non-fiction work that explores the author’s personal experiences working in the oil sands industry in Alberta, Canada. The book covers a period of two years, during which she worked several jobs. Beaton covers a wide range of topics about the harsh impact of oil sands industry on both the environment, the people, but we turn the page to see her story. It is a deeply personal account of her experiences, growth, and hurts. We bare witness to the pervasive sexual harassment she endured while working in a male dominated industry. I was particularly impressed how Beaton conveyed the scene to the reader of when she first tried to report the harassment to her boss. I won’t spoil the story, but I feel like Beaton did a masterful job with that scene in both its simplicity and relatability. 

In addition to her work on the oil sands, Beaton is also an accomplished cartoonist and illustrator, with her previous works entitled Hark! A Vagrant and Step Aside, Pops.

Overall, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is an insightful, thought-provoking, and deeply personal story wonderfully rendered and intimately satisfying. 9.5/10

You can purchase a signed edition from the publisher here:

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Nominated for the following awards:

We anticipate Kate Beaton and Ducks showing up on most awards lists, however, the award season for titles released in 2022 doesn’t really begin for another six months. I’ll update this site later in the year, but (from the Publisher) here are some lists already released:
  • Andrew Carnegie Medal – Nominated for Excellence in Nonfiction
  • Goodreads Choice Awards – Nominated for Best Graphic Novel
  • Chatelaine’s Doris Anderson Award

Check out the following testimonial from the creator:

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