Biography, graphic novel

Graphic Novel Review: Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

amazon haul

Title: Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Translator: Anjali Singh
Publisher: Pantheon
Length: 192 Pages, Paperback
Genre: Autobiography, Graphic Novel
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

In Persepolis, heralded by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the freshest and most original memoirs of our day,” Marjane Satrapi dazzled us with her heartrending memoir-in-comic-strips about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Here is the continuation of her fascinating story. In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna. Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among a group of fellow outsiders, she continues to struggle for a sense of belonging.

Finding that she misses her home more than she can stand, Marjane returns to Iran after graduation. Her difficult homecoming forces her to confront the changes both she and her country have undergone in her absence and her shame at what she perceives as her failure in Austria. Marjane allows her past to weigh heavily on her until she finds some like-minded friends, falls in love, and begins studying art at a university. However, the repression and state-sanctioned chauvinism eventually lead her to question whether she can have a future in Iran.

As funny and poignant as its predecessor, Persepolis 2 is another clear-eyed and searing condemnation of the human cost of fundamentalism. In its depiction of the struggles of growing up—here compounded by Marjane’s status as an outsider both abroad and at home—it is raw, honest, and incredibly illuminating.

Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novels are amazing. There’s no other way to put it honestly. I did end up enjoying part 1 better. I found her childhood more interesting and informative than her teenage years into adulthood.

I can’t find much else to say about Persepolis 2. Even though I enjoyed part 1 more, this book was just as intriguing and eye opening as the first. I enjoy the way Satrapi uses narration, dialogue, and art to fully display her story and the range of emotions she was catapulting through as a lone teen in a foreign country.

I hope she makes a 3rd part. I want to see how her story continued. I want to see her success and how she came to write both parts of Persepolis.

Biography, graphic novel, nonfiction

Graphic Novel Review: Persepolis: The Story of Childhood by Marjane Satrapi


Title: Persepolis: The Story of Childhood
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Translator: Mattis Ripa
Publisher: Pantheon
Length: 160 pages, Paperback
Genre: Autobiography, Graphic Novel
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

I’ve been putting off this review mostly because of laziness but also because I’m not sure what to say. This book is so emotional and I wasn’t sure I could review it like I normally do graphic novels based on art and storyline and what not.

Personally, the art style isn’t for me but this isn’t the type of graphic novel you read because the artwork is pretty. The art style reflects that of the story and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It befits what Satrapi is trying to portray to the reader.

As for the storyline, there were times where I was confused and wished for the details I would have gotten had this not been a graphic novel but the details of the pictures were also very helpful.

Overall, I LOVED reading this. I’ve already ordered the second graphic novel and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

graphic novel, romance

Graphic Novel Review: The Cute Girl Network


Title: The Cute Girl Network
Author(s): MK Reed and Greg Means
Illustrator: Joe Flood
Publisher: First Second
Length: 192, Paperback
Genre: Graphic Novel, Romance
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Jane’s new in town. When she wipes out on her skateboard right in front of Jack’s food cart, she finds herself agreeing to go on a date with him. Jane’s psyched that her love life is taking a turn for the friskier, but it turns out that Jack has a spotty romantic history, to put it mildly. Cue the Cute Girl Network — a phone tree information-pooling group of local single women. Poor Jane is about to learn every detail of Jack’s past misadventures… whether she wants to or not. Will love prevail?
In this graphic novel from Greg Means, Americus author MK Reed, and Joe Flood, the illustrator of Orcs, comes a fast, witty, and sweet romantic comedy that is actually funny, and actually romantic.
This graphic novel was so cute! I loved it and I’m glad I happened to see Cory Doctorow mention it on his Twitter.

I loved Jane. She’s down to Earth and will listen to what others say but also wants to form her own opinions and her relationship with Jack was adorable. They were perfect for each other. This is the first time a graphic novel had me grinning like an idiot and I definitely don’t regret it.

I admit it was a little hard to get into at first but I think that’s just because there is a lot more dialogue than I’m used to in a graphic novel and by about 20 pages in I had no problem. I just needed to adjust.

The other thing I loved was that this entire graphic novel was quite feministic but not in the way that I thought it would be. It completely surprised me and I loved the laid back way the authors handled it. Like it’s something that just should be and there’s no question about it.

This is the first time a graphic novel as received 5 folded pages from me and it was definitely well deserved.

graphic novel, historical fiction, young adult

Graphic Novel Review: Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang


Title: Boxers & Saints
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: First Second
Length: 512 pages (between both books), Paperback
Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 2 Folded Pages

In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.
But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.

I didn’t much care for these to be honest. I really liked the premise. Especially since it tells two different sides of the same event, but for the most part it really fell flat. It was boring and at times overly wordy for a graphic novel.

I definitely understand the importance of these books. They show Chinese culture and allow readers a look into Chinese characters and I love this fact but I couldn’t get into them. The only reason I finished them is because graphic novels don’t take very long to read.

Little Bao annoyed me most times. His character didn’t seem to have any cohesiveness and he tended to do things I thought varied greatly with his established personality. I enjoyed Four-Girl and if I had choose I definitely liked Saints better than Boxers.

Four-Girl’s reasoning behind what she does and how she does it are more sound and believable. She was young and her family treated her awfully. Of course she found solace in a religion that forgave her “sins” even if they weren’t really hers.

Also her age made Four-Girl’s actions much more believable. Though I think Bao’s age was supposed to about the same as hers. I can’t honestly say if that’s true or not because I have no sense of the timeline in Boxers. Saints was a lot easier to follow in that aspect as well.

Honestly, these books are just not for me. I’m going to try to read Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese to see if I just don’t like these or if maybe I just won’t happen to be a fan of his. I want to try more because I think it might have just been the plot and how it was executed that I didn’t like.

Fantasy, graphic novel, paranormal

Graphic Novel Review: Cemetery Girl: The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden

cemetery girl

Title: Cemetery Girl: The Pretenders
Author: Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden
Publisher: InkLit
Length:128 Pages, Hardcover
Genre: Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Fantasy
Rating: 3 folded pages

She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill—names taken from the grim surroundings where she awoke, bruised and bloody, with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or who left her for dead.

She has made the cemetery her home, living in a crypt and avoiding human contact. But Calexa can’t hide from the dead—and because she can see spirits, they can’t hide from her.

Then one night, Calexa spies a group of teenagers vandalizing a grave—and watches in horror as they commit murder. As the victim’s spirit rises from her body, it flows into Calexa, overwhelming her mind with visions and memories not her own.

Now Calexa must make a decision: continue to hide to protect herself—or come forward to bring justice to the sad spirit who has reached out to her for help…

This was a good, quick read with some very heavy themes. I enjoyed this book and I might grab the sequel from the library when it comes out though I wouldn’t buy this series.

I really enjoyed the art style. It held a lot of color while still maintaining the dark themes in the story. I also enjoyed Calexa as a character. However, I would have liked more backstory. It took me a while to get invested into the characters and that’s not good with a graphic novel.

I want to see what comes next for Calexa but it doesn’t really have me on the edge of my seat like Saga did so I can wait a while. I think this might be a story that drops off into oblivion for me. It was good but not great. Not sure what else to say about it honestly. It’s one of those books that’s just kind of there.

graphic novel, young adult

Graphic Novel Review: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang


Title: In Real Life
Author: Cory Doctorow
Illustrator: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Length: 192, Paperback
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing.
But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer — a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.
From acclaimed teen author Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.
This was a super cute and light read that I think every teenager (everyone in general really) should read. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about video games and the community that surrounds them. In Real Life does a good job at dispelling that in a way that makes it accessible to anyone.

I grew up playing MMOs (Massive Multiplayer Online) games with my brother and cousin. We were always enraged by farmers who would gather around certain dungeons or areas killing everything and taking items so that no one else was able to get at it and players paying money to win was one of the worst offenses in our eyes since we worked hard to level up. This book challenges those thoughts showing who is on the other side of that farming mob.

Doctorow is good at opening my eyes to issues like this and this short graphic novel has a close relation with his other book on gold farming called For the Win.

The graphic novel does feel like it almost doesn’t have a plot but I think in this case it works. It’s supposed to be reflecting reality and I think a massive plot would distract from that. It took me about 45 minutes to read and I think for such a short time commitment, it should be given a chance even if it’s not quite your thing.

new adult, science fiction, scifi

Graphic Novel Review: Saga Volumes 3 and 4 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples


Title: Saga Volume 3 and Volume 4
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Length: 144 and 144
Genre: New Adult, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Rating: 3 Folded pages for both volumes

Click here to see my review of Volumes 1 and 2!

Landfall and it’s moon, Wreath, have always been at war. Instead of fighting on their own planets the opposing sides take proxy planets to fight wars on. The story follows a star crossed couple and their baby.

If you read my first Saga review, then you know I absolutely adored Volumes 1 and 2, which makes me say sad to say that Volumes 3 and 4 didn’t really do it for me. I still loved the characters and artwork but it felt more like filler than story. I can honestly say I’m not sure what happened to progress the story in these two volumes.

Sequels are always hard but I find that normally graphic novels have an easier time because the story is spread out by the artwork. It’s expected that graphic novels have several volumes. However, I think Saga is struggling to keep the story going. Both volumes were mostly unexplained action that became boring fast. The two volumes did set up the next volume to be nicely packed with both action and story so I’m excited and hopeful.

Because I was so disappointed with these volumes I can only give them 3 folded pages which honestly saddens me because we need more graphic novels (or even regular novels) with the kind of diversity and themes that Saga has.

graphic novel, mystery, young adult

Graphic Novel Review: Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson Art by Adrian Alphona

Ms Marvel graphic novel

Title: Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal
Author: G. Willow Wilson Art by Adrian Alphona
Publisher: Marvel
Length: 120, Paperback
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Mystery
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Marvel Comics presents the all-new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation! Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City – until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all-new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! As Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to handle? Kamala has no idea either. But she’s comin’ for you, New York! It’s history in the making from acclaimed writer G. Willow Wilson (Air, Cairo) and beloved artist Adrian Alphona (Runaways)!

Ms. Marvel is a graphic novel that is sorely needed. It features a female lead, who is ethnically diverse with a cast that is just as different. That being said, I just don’t think this graphic novel was for me. I wish I had read this novel when I was still in high school.

Kamala is an amazingly real teenage girl and I think that’s why I’m annoyed with her. I’m no longer a teenage girl and though most times I can relate to them in novels this time I just found her annoying. I know I would have loved this graphic novel had I still been in high school and it breaks my heart that I can’t give it a killer review.

I love how diverse the cast is and doesn’t play heavily into stereotypes. All the teenagers act and feel like teenagers and although I find that annoying I also understand that it’s targeted at teenagers and I think it does an excellent job.

The artwork is also nicely done. I enjoy the simple but colorful style. It feels very classic Marvel and I appreciate that. I like that the traditional garb worn by Kamala’s friend and family is accurate and not exaggerated.

Although I personally didn’t enjoy this, I strongly believe it was mostly because of my age. I hope young girls in middle or high school read this and enjoy it. I wish I had this graphic novel when I was that age because I know it probably would have made a world of difference.

graphic novel, historical fiction

Graphic Novel Review: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Title: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
Author: Tony Cliff
Publisher: First Second
Length: 176 Pages, Paperback
Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical fiction
Rating: 4 folded pages

Lovable ne’er-do-well Delilah Dirk is an Indiana Jones for the 19th century. She has traveled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she’s picked up on the way, Delilah’s adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan’s guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life.
A little bit Tintin, a little bit Indiana Jones, Tony Cliff’s Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is a great pick for any reader looking for a smart and foolhardy heroine…and globetrotting adventures.

Review:Inside art the graphic novel
I picked up this graphic novel solely because I LOVED the artwork on the cover and let me tell you the rest of the art in the book did not disappoint. There were so many scenes that were absolutely striking. Cliff’s attention to detail and color in this graphic novel is stunning. I felt I could pretty much ignore everything else because his artwork was pretty but I didn’t really have to. I took a picture of one of my favorite scenes to show you because I didn’t think the book cover did Tony Cliff’s art style enough justice.

The story, although nothing extremely complex or fancy, was cute and heart-warming. Selim learns about himself and what he wants through his friendship with Delilah. It was a quick read (I think it took me maybe an hour) and it was super adorable. I loved watching their odd friendship blossom on page and in the artwork.

I can’t wait to pick up the other novels in this series. I want to see more of Delilah and Selim and their friendship. Cliff builds their characters so perfectly with only the use of dialogue and pictures and yet I still feel like I got to know both of them quite well. I’m definitely going to be on the look out for more works from Tony Cliff and I’m super excited to continue this reading about Delilah Dirk.

graphic novel, new adult, science fiction, scifi

Graphic Novel Review: Saga Volumes 1 and 2

Saga volumes 1 and 2

Title: Saga Volumes 1 and 2
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Length: 160 and 144
Genre: New Adult, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Rating: 4 Folded pages for both volumes

Landfall and it’s moon, Wreath, have always been at war. Instead of fighting on their own planets the opposing sides take proxy planets to fight wars on. The story follows a star crossed couple and their baby.

I’m really enjoying this graphic novel series so far. Volumes one and two were equally exciting. Although the child of the couple is still in infancy, she narrates the story as if she’s telling the story while you read the action. It’s extremely interesting.

That being said, I did feel like there’s something missing. I can’t really put my finger on it but some of the plot falls a little flat. I think it might be the freelancer plot which I won’t go into so I don’t give any spoilers. I just find myself kind of bored when the story veers away from the main couple.

The artwork is absolutely beautiful. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to the art in graphic novels, comics, or manga and Staples beautiful character design and color usage definitely meets my standards.

I’m excited to see where Vaughan and Staples take this beautiful space drama. I’m glad the New Adult genre is becoming more popular. Saga was an impulse grab at the library today and I’m definitely not sorry. Now I just wish my library had the other volumes!