Book Review – Persepolis & Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis:  The story of a childhood
Marjane Satrapi
Translation 2003
Originally published in france 2000
Hardback graphic novel

Marjane Satrapi was a child in Iran in the 80s when the government fell and war broke out.  This graphic novel tells her story in pieces, from being carefree and 10, attending a French-language school in Tehran, where she grew up, to being 14 and sent out of the country because it was the only way to keep her safe.  In the middle, she saw people that she love come and go as prisoners (one batch released, one entered), she went from regular clothes and a mixed school to all-girls, wearing headscarves.  She went from a child to a young teen who knew when to run to the basement bomb shelter and when the bombing was too close to make the run worth it.

There’s not much to say with this book.  It’s told in first person, through Marji’s perspective, and with the innocence of a 10-14 year old child.  That’s both good and bad, as we get little glimpses as to how these changes affected regular people, but only little glimpses.  Also, as a bonus, there is a two page intro that gives us Persia/Iran history, which I think is helpful.

Illustrations are simplistic black and white drawings by the author.

In the end, I’m giving it a four because of the glimpse of history it gives us.  If this were fiction, it’d only be a three.


Persepolis 2:  The story of a return
Marjane Satrapi
Translation 2004
Originally published in france 2000
Hardback graphic novel

Okay, after reading part 1, the graphic novel about the author’s life in Iran, I really wanted to read part 2.

And this is going to be a short review because I have so many issues with it.  First of all, the author’s life sucked and I didn’t see a lot worth reading in this book.  Her parents sent her off to Europe, and the woman that was supposed to take her in sent her to live with nuns.  On her own, basically, earlier than most of us could drive.

Honestly, the thing I liked about Persepolis was that I was learning about Iran when they switched from progressive society to covering themselves and segregating. The issue I had with Persepolis 2 is that I didn’t care at all about European Beatnicks and underage drug use or teens off on their own.  I wanted to slap the mother’s friend.  Oh, and there was no reminder of what had happened in the first book, this is literally like turning the page and continuing on (I know I make that complaint a lot, but authors need to remember that readers don’t always read their books one after another right away).

When Marjane finally went back because she was homesick, I was left with more questions than answers – after all, the author, according the the blurb on the back cover, was currently living in Paris.  If she was so hot and bothered to get back home, why did she leave again? Was she really that miserable?

If you read the first and thought it was the best book ever, pick it up if you catch it at the library.  But really, there’s no cultural value, nothing special to glean from this.  The art isn’t redeeming.

A very disappointed 2 out of 5 pages.

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