Sunday, 24 August 2008

The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

I've been trying to catch up with my reviews and with the blogging activities in general but since I've come back from holidays I've been so busy, and tired, and then busy again that I still haven't found time to even develop my holiday pics, let alone write proper reviews of the books I've been reading. Even now I have so many things I should do...I'm so stressed!!! anyway, this is supposed to be a review, so here it goes.

I had heard about Persepolis before its film came out. It was mentioned now and again by those graphic novels connoisseurs as a must read, a pillar of the genre, a masterpiece. But it never occurred to me to go and look for it, till the movie was made.

Now that I've read it all I can say is "Wow, what a page-turner!" I know, it's very generic, and it doesn't say much about the book, but that's the first thing that came to my mind after finishing it. Anytime I was reading it on the bus I was at risk of missing my stop, because I was so deeply immersed in it. I never imagined a biography to be so captivating.
The edition I have includes both part I and part II, so it was an uninterrupted journey into Satrapi's life.
In my total ignorance about Iran's history, I didn't know anything of the Islamic revolution and its consequences. About the repression, the tortures, the fear that was part of people's everyday life. One thing is reading history books (which I don't do anyway) and another is reading a memoir of someone who experienced those years personally. I have a tendency of identifying with the stories and the characters I read about. I did the same with this book, and it was extremely emotional.
But don't make mistakes, this is far from being a heavy read. It was tough, it made me shiver and it made me angry, but it made me laugh out loud too. A lot. The shocking and the funny was perfectly balanced and that, I think, is what makes Persepolis unique.
It helped that Marjane was raised by a very liberal family, with a socialist background and an independent way of thinking. It showed the stark contrast between what was going on outside, where you could have been arrested for wearing make up, and inside, where people were risking their lives to throw parties or listening to rock music.

Unfortunately I've left it too late to write a review that would actually make justice to this wonderful book. All I know is that it was one of my favourite reads of this year, and that I couldn't recommend it more. Even if you think you wouldn't be interested, try and read the first few pages. I bet you'll be hooked before you know it.

Other blog reviews:
Thoughts of Joy (part I)
B&B Ex libris
The Book Nest (Part I)
An adventure in reading
Things mean a lot
The Hidden side of a leaf
Rhinoa's ramblings
Katrina's reads
It's all about me

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The Wish House - Celia Rees

This is one of those books, I'm sorry to say, that didn't touch me at all. It left me almost completely indifferent. I know I'll forget about it very quickly, so I'm happy I jotted down some notes right after I finished it!

England, summer 1960s. For Richard this summer is a sort of initiation to adulthood. First love, first sex, first death.
It's also an introduction to the exotic, the unusual and outrageous, through the unconventional Dalton Family. Cleo attracts Richard's attention immediately, with her penetrating violet eyes and black shiny hair. She's 15, like Richard, but seems to have much more experience than him. At first their relationship goes though a time of bliss and playfulness. Having sex in the fields and woods, inventing games inspired by The Lord of the Rings or Swallow and Amazons. But soon Richards realises he can't have Cleo all for himself. He has to spend time with her millions of relatives, and more importantly, he has to pose for her father Jay, who seems to have found in him a new inspiration for his paintings.

There are hints of secrets that Cleo's family are hiding. There's an air of mysticism around Jay, but there's something else, some untold truth that might destroy their summery idyll for ever.

I read this till the end,eager to find out the big secrets, but honestly, there wasn't much to it. The ending felt very anti-climatic, and the story itself never had much appeal to me. I did like some things, though. The idea of the Daltons was intriguing and the writing itself was great. But other than that, a rather forgetful read.

Celia Rees is the author of Witch Child. I'd recommend to try that one, if you want to read something by her. It was different, in themes and settings, but definitely a much better book.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Travels of Thelonious - Susan Schade and Jon Buller

In ancient times, when human beings ruled the earth and the animals did not yet have the gift of language, there was born a certain human baby, and his was names Bob...

That's how one of the old legends starts...

...and that's how this little charming book starts as well. Set in a far future, where humanity has disappeared mysteriously from the face of the earth, Travels of Thelonious is the first book of a series called The Fog Mound. Its hero is a young chipmunk called Thelonious, who lives in the Untamed Forest and firmly believes that the old legends about the Human Occupation are true. But his sister Dolores keeps saying they are only legends and humans never existed!
Then one day a flood carries Thelonious away from the forest and right into the ancient City Of Ruins. Here animals wear clothes, eat from canned food and read books. In this strange and decaying world Thelonious meet a kind porcupine, a flying Bear and a dodgy lizard and together they embark in an exciting adventure in search of the Fog Mound.

This was a very pleasant discovery for me. I found it at the library on the "new arrivals" trolley and I snatched it immediately. "Part graphic novel, part heroic fantasy, it's an adventure like no other!". The cover says it all. Add talking animals, far future setting and funny drawings to the mix and you'll be sure to capture my complete attention.
The story didn't disappoint me, although to know its ending and hence formulate a definitive opinion, I'll have to read the rest of the series, which I don't think it'll happen any time soon.
All in all, a funny and quick read, particularly recommended for reluctant readers, or for any kid who loves animals and adventures.