1. Samantha Tadros
2. This graphic novel, told in first person, contains two main stories with multiple themes; one story is a love story between Zam and Dodola. The other story is about Dodola’s struggles throughout her life starting at a very young age. The themes include survival and love. Zam a protagonist is at the beginning of the novel a young, skinny African American slave, and by the end of the story he matures into a rather large man. Dodola, another protagonist, is a very attractive woman with long dark hair, thick juicy lips with a perfect figure. The love story is very unorthodox. Dodola adopts Zam when he is very young. Their love story begins as a brother sister love then turns into a mother son love. In this stage Dodola shares her love for reading and numbers with Zam and tried to educate him. Their love slowly turns into something more passionate than mother and son and as a reader we can see this progression from both Zam’s point of view and Dodola’s point of view. The second story in this graphic novel, Dodola’s life struggles, is a sad struggle for the readers. Many people will empathize with her as she is sold into marriage at a young age, kidnapped, whoring in the desert, and other tragic events. Along with all these exciting events in the novel there is parts that will digress from the story and teach about the Quran; these parts are actually every insightful and add to the book overall greatness.
3. The media used to create the drawings in Habibiis ink. The general style of the book is a very realistic with tight polished drawings. All drawings in this novel have strong binary opposition; they are all strong black and strong white thick sketching. The novel is far from impressionistic there are no uses of bright colors and there are plenty of details in each and every drawing. There are a lot of uses of lines in the novel. The use of the Arabic language is prominent in the novel and the entire language is wavy lines and cured ways. The shapes are very different in each drawing there are not many distinct boundaries.
4. The author’s purpose of writing this novel is to expose a life, maybe exaggerated in the novel but is true in the Middle East, the setting of the novel that is true. Also the author is pointing out issues of poverty and the issues with love. The life that some Middle Eastern girls live is depicted in this novel. Many girls are sold in marriages at a young age and forced to live that they would not have picked for themselves. One of the settings in the book is a low poverty village where the water is not drinkable and food is scarce. There are a lot of people dying and the space is limited. I believe the author is trying to bring the issue of poverty to the eyes of people that do not know much about it. Another intention that I believe the author has is to enlighten people on the Quran. Within the novel there are a lot of topics brought up and taught to the reader.
5. This novel is very different and unique for a few different reasons. At first glance the novel can be a little scary because it is very large. The drawings in this novel are very detailed which make it very interesting and make a reader want to come back to it. I think the most interesting part of the novel is the reference to a different religion. For people with an open mind about religion the novel can be very interesting and thought provoking. Because the novel contains multiple story lines going on at the same time it is hard to get bored with a novel. At first the novel was a little difficult to get a grasp on because it jumps right into the story but once a reader figures out what is going on it becomes very interesting. The book has a lot of sexual references so I would have to say that the author draws the human body well and faces well also. The drawings are clear and realistic, except when referring to some of the religious mystical aspects. Overall I would have to say that the biggest strength of the novel is the multiple, interesting stories and the reference to a different religion.
6. There are a few weaknesses with this novel but nothing too extreme that would make a reader put the book down. The book uses a lot of Arabic language. This can be difficult for some people who are not familiar with the language. It is not ideal for someone reading the novel to put the book down and run to a translator so maybe the author could still use the Arabic but put the translation next to it too. Another weakness to the novel would be the transitions between story shifts and changes. It abruptly changes from Dodola’s struggles back to Zam’s struggles back to religion. If there was a clearer cut off I think it would be easier for a reader to understand. Like mentioned before these weaknesses are nothing that should keep a curious reader away from this novel.
7. Due to the graphic pictures and adult topics in this novel it would not be appropriate for anyone under the age of 16. Preferably I think 18 years of age or older would be a better age to understand the book. Any gender can benefit from reading this novel though. Although anyone can enjoy the novel I think that Middle Eastern people would personally enjoy the book because they can relate to the language and maybe even for some, the religion. I would not recommend this novel to people with closed minds that are not willing to open their eyes to maybe things that they do not see on a regular basis. I would not say that I felt uncomfortable at any time while reading this novel but I can see why some people might. Like it was mentioned earlier there is a lot of reference to sex and rape in this novel and the drawings go with it. The book has potential to make a reader feel awkward but that is definitely not the main purpose the author had in mind.
8. Other books that the author has written that people may want to check out include good-bye, chunky Rice, Blankets,and Carnet de Voyage. Good-bye, Chunky Rice is a book that about a small turtle who leaves his home and best friend to enter the next phase in his life. Blanketsis a book about Craig Thompson’s own life as a young child and all the conflicts he experienced. Carnet de Voyage is a book of drawings and sketches made by Thompson while traveling through France, Barcelona, Alps, and morocco.
9. I would rate this novel a 5/5. It was great!