Watchmen

Book review by
Grace Le, Common Sense Media
Watchmen Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Retired heroes fight to save themselves in gritty classic.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 43 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Sometimes even superheroes need saving. Working as a team can help get the job done. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Damaged characters host a slew of moral vices. But they team up to solve the mureder of a superhero. 

Violence

Exaggerated comic book violence depicts guns, explosions, mutation, hand-to-hand combat, animal abuse, and the horrors of war. One startling scene features a brief but brutal attempted rape (not explicit). In another, a pregnant woman is shot in cold blood.

Sex

Some mild sex scenes, references to prostitution, and a cartoonish porno comic called a "Tiajuana Bible."

Language

Some name-calling and swearing, such as "s--t" and "goddamn."

Consumerism

Fictional brand Veidt dominates the market, but some familiar brands remain to retain realism. Big names like Kleenex and ABC make occasional appearances.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking, drug addiction, and aesthetic cigar(ette) smoking reminiscent of old Hollywood. A political cartoon caricatures a woman offering reefers and heroin to a chained Captain America figure. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Watchmen is a landmark graphic novel meant for mature readers and contains lots of violent imagery, profane language, and events of vigilante justice. Still, author Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons work together to create a genre-shaping graphic novel that's as engrossing visually as it is in plot.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRoseRose October 25, 2009

Awesome book for adults, keep it away from the kids

LOVED it when I read it for a college class. That's what it's appropriate for. College students. Heck, I'm iffy about my 17 year old brother r... Continue reading
Adult Written bymoviemaker201 May 23, 2013

Alan Moore is a GENIOUS!!!!!!!

Three words. Best. Book. EVER!!! When I saw the trailer for the movie, I was all like: "Wow! That looks cool!" Well, I told my friend that I was going... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byComicnerd101 March 31, 2021

Alan Moore, thank you very much!

This book and the movie share so many good lines between the two. Although the book is better. This book has a few swear words now and again but not much. Some... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMr Nobody January 11, 2021

The greatest book ever written, but not for kids

I could go on and on and on about how much of a flawless masterpiece Watchmen is, but you're here to read about whether you should let your kid read it. As... Continue reading

What's the story?

When even superheroes need saving, you know you've got a major problem. In WATCHMEN's alternate history, America is on the brink of social combustion. By passing the Keene Act, the government banned vigilante justice, forcing America's greatest superheroes into retirement. Years later, the murder of The Comedian draws old colleagues back into action, but the circumstances behind his death may run far deeper than mere personal vendetta.

Is it any good?

With its sophisticated plot, complex characterizations, and spot-on rendering of the human condition, Watchmen is the quintessential graphic novel. Dave Gibbons' expressive, brooding illustrations complement, not carry, the literary merit of its writing. Poetic in verse and saturated with psychological realism, Watchmen is the only graphic novel thus far to make Time's "100 Best Novels" list, an accomplishment that's well earned.

On the flip side, parents may have a hard time stomaching the story's graphic violence and crass dialogue. Watchmen has come a long way from the cartoonish "POW" and "KABLAMO" of its comic book predecessors. Keep in mind that this graphic novel is meant for mature audiences and is chock full of adult themes and complex issues. That said, Watchmen is a gripping read for any fan of the science fiction or mystery genre.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the many ethical issues raised by the actions and circumstances of the characters in Watchmen. What is a nihilist, and how might being one affect The Comedian's actions?

  •  How does the story's alternate history differ from what happened in reality? 

  • Is it ever OK to take the law into your own hands?

Book details

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For kids who love graphic novels and superheroes

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