A Review of The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi


I am not the biggest fan of graphic novels.  When one was mentioned, I always thought of comic book superheros, of underdeveloped characters, and ridiculous plots all set to the pace of interestingly drawn pictures.  The Complete Persepolis isn’t any of that.  Instead, it is a story of a young girl growing up in Iran – a story both true and deep.

The Good:   The format mixed with Satrapi’s style actually makes the story much more accessible that it otherwise would have been.  It can be an intimidating subject matter, but Satrapi actually makes it fun to read, and it is interesting to note how her pictures reflect what she is writing and how her writing reflects what she is drawing.  It is also a story that I know admittedly know little about – I am not nearly as well versed as I should be about any of the countries in the Middle East, something that I think I share with many other Americans.  I learned a lot through this window into her childhood.  The story is heartbreaking at times and hilarious at others – the balance only accentuated the honesty behind the story, something I really appreciated.

The Bad:

With the format of a graphic novel, a reader must pay equal attention to the pictures and the captions.  This was difficult for me.  Although it was easy to admire Satrapi’s style, both writing and drawing, it was harder for me to pick up the subtleties of the drawings.  My mind wouldn’t dwell on them, but instead go right to the next frame, in order to find out what happens next.  This of course has more to do with my inexperience reading graphic novels than it does to an actual fault of the novel’s, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  I would often have to force myself to look at the pictures for a some time before turning the page.

The Verdict:

If you are a fan of graphic novels, I think you will love this.  If you are a history buff or perhaps have an appreciation for new ways of story-telling, I think you would also enjoy this.

If you have no interest in Iran or graphic novels, this would probably not be for you. However, as I was truly interested in learning more about the Iran that Satrapi knew, the format of a graphic novel did not stop me from enjoying the novel.  Actually, I learned to appreciate the form more than I have in the past.

As always, thank you for reading, and Happy Friday!

Written by Rachel B.

Rachel is a co-creator and writer at Definitely Not for the Birds (DNFB). She recently graduated with a degree in English. Presently, she writes, reads, and then reads and writes some more, with a giant and ever-present mug of green tea in her hand. Follow Rachel @rrbindl and DNFB @not4birds