Sunday, 27 April 2008

Book Review: Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)

The Hopefully-Weekly-Book Review (aka. The Almost-Monthly-Book-Review) is back this week, and this time, it's a really good book I'm reviewing. No really, don't watch the movie for Persepolis yet - the book is the original, and you HAVE to read it!

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Title: Persepolis
Author/illustrator: Marjane Satrapi


Synopsis (from Amazon.com)
The story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trails of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.


What I Liked:
  • Awesome, awesome book. Best I've read in ages.
  • It's a comic, but not really a comic!
  • It's absorbing, and very entertaining at the same time.
  • It's funny! Though in a rather sad-funny kinda way at times.
  • The story's pretty damn good too.
  • She's very good at putting things in perspective.
  • She's also suitably candid when dealing with the heavy issues
  • I love how candid and blunt she can be with her words and drawings
  • The drawings are cute! and yet very tragic at the same time.
  • You actually learn a lot about what happened (and happens in Iran, and some world history too.


What I Didn't Like:
  • The grown-up Marjane in the second book, The Story of a Return; was not as entertaining as the child Marjane.
  • I couldn't tell the some of the characters apart at times...

Summary:
I dare anyone to read this book and then tell me that graphic novels are for kids, or are just about superheroes, or cannot be considered 'literature'.

This is a perfect example of a REAL novel, a REAL novel put into pictures, and with REAL serious issues put in the most whimsical, yet engaging way possible.

It's a comic, but sometimes you don't really feel it's a 'comic' at times, more like a proper novel, told in the most simplistic, yet thorough and visual way possible. It also helps that Marjane's life is one of the most incredibly warped journeys I've ever read, but it was still engaging to read about how she and her family had to cope with the regimes in Iran, the war and how she managed to cope in liberal Europe on her own, then come home to the completely different culture of Iran again.

It hits hard at issues, but not hard enough to make you wanna take up picket signs or press nuclear weapons launch buttons. And when it's funny, its really funny. And it doesn't feel boring one bit (except a few parts when she's in in Europe).

The first part of the book (the version I read combines Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood & its sequel Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return in one book) is the best one, because we see Marjane actually growing up in Iran, with war and over-zealousness regimes all around her, and how her thoughts and behaviors are shaped by everything. It also helps that little Marjane is damn cute.

The second book, however, is a little more serious. It's a lot more adult-Marjane oriented, obviously because Marjane is grown up and thinks about things more deeply than a Kid Marjane would. That doesn't mean its any less entertaining or good to read though - it's stil good, but a little more serious than the first one, that's all.

Anyway, no need to say anymore - Buy, beg or steal, you HAVE to read this book. So go get it!!!

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