Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #137-8: Persepolis & Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

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A perfect follow-up to MausPersepolis is a similarly personal account of a dark time in someone’s life, in this case Marjane Satrapi’s. Compared to Maus, however, hers is a much lighter story, as she was absent from her home country of Iran during the worst of the revolution. Her story is also significantly more relatable.

You may not personally know what it was like to grow up as an Iranian during such a tumultuous time, but underneath it all Persepolis touches on life experiences we’re all familiar with. Despite her situation, Marjane’s trajectory in life is like that of any other kid growing up. She goes through all the requisite phases, meets all the familiar roadblocks, etc. She also has a concern I, and I assume many others, often have, that her problems would sound trivial in comparison to what others have had to endure.

Put in just a few words, she’s like you and I. It goes to show that no environment, no matter how repressive, can squelch the human spirit. What it can do, though, is bring out some of the worst in us, which Satrapi doesn’t shy away from telling us about either. Thankfully, it’s balanced out with plenty of humor to lighten things up.

Whereas Spiegelman grew more and more distanced from himself and his situation, Maus becoming increasingly meta, Satrapi grows more and more attentive towards it, not wanting to retreat, to fall apart beneath the weight of circumstance. I’m not saying one is better than the other for that reason, just differentiating their approaches.

Both are well deserving of a read, and in the case of Persepolis a watch, if you want to see what it’s like for an author to give him or herself over to the reader completely.

 

Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.

ElCicco #CBR5 Review #38: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

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This graphic novel is geared toward the young adult crowd and provides a nice mix of teen troubles and ghost story. At the beginning, it seemed kind of “Caspar the Friendly Ghost”-y, but then it turns dark and the real fun begins.

Anya is a high schooler and Russian emigre. She has endured bullying and learned to adapt and lose her accent to fit in. She skips church and cuts classes to smoke with her friend Siobhan. Anya rejects pretty much everything her family represents — foreign name, unusual religion, different body type. She longs to hang with the cool crowd, especially the handsome high school basketball star Sean, who dates the most perfect girl in the school.

One day, Anya takes a short cut through a remote area and falls down a well, where she is introduced to the ghost of a teen girl named Emily, who died 90 years ago in the same well. After being rescued, Emily is able to follow Anya thanks to a bone that winds up in Anya’s backpack. Emily is fascinated with Anya’s teen drama, having missed out on it herself, and Anya begins to see the advantages of having a ghost friend.

It sounds like an unorthodox buddy story until something happens that causes the story to take a dark turn. Anya has to start thinking and working for herself or her life and the lives of her friends and family will be at risk.

This was a fun and quick read. The dialog is sharp and often funny. Anya is a realistic teen (well, except for the ghost buddy part). It’s definitely geared toward the young teen crowd (not your dark, deep convoluted graphic novel) and follows a simple story line. The illustrations are done in blacks, greys, blues and white, which helps build a ghostly and sinister mood. The drawing reminded me a bit of the graphic novel Persepolis. All in all, a fine read for an afternoon and one to pass on to the kids.