Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: Cairo by G. Willow Wilson & M. K. Perker

On to another glorious week! The weather has turned especially warm, with lots of sunshine and budding trees and flowers. Can we all give a collective sigh? Yes, spring is finally upon us, and I know it's here when the trees start to bloom this blossom that smells like stinky feet. Not my favorite smell in the world, but half the time my nose can't quite smell it because of allergies, so no problem!

I just started teaching Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This is my first time teaching it to my AP Literature students, and although I always enjoyed the novel, I've been concerned about its reception with them! So far, so good. I had a couple of students finish it in a day, because they couldn't stand not knowing what was going to happen. I love when they do that! Having said that, I tend to slow my own reading down so I can really read the text I'm teaching, and have good discussion points ready to go. Last night, however, I picked up a graphic novel I'd seen floating around the blogisphere called Cairo. It was a nice, fast read, and let me escape for a short amount of time into a story I could consume in one short reading session.

Synopsis: Cairo covers the lives of five main characters, which are surrounded by other minor characters who complicate things for them. There is the journalist (struggling to write without being censored), the hashish smuggler, the Orange County girl seeking out anti-Imperialistic excitement, the Israeli army hottie girl, and the Lebanese-American returning to a country he's never been to before, but shares its identity. Each of these four characters find themselves in none other than Cairo, Egypt, surrounded by culture and conflict. We find that the hashish smuggler has sold an object that the local bad guys want back. In reparation for this, they have kidnapped the the Orange County girl and the journalist until the object is returned. On this journey, these character's stories each interconnect. Mixed in with the adventure of returning stolen goods, we see mythic tales of the East unfold, and myth, legend, and magic blend together to make this a supernatural tale of person and place.

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this black and white, graphically told tale. The mingling of characters, with their unique backgrounds and turmoil, and the myths and legends mixed into the story made this a fun tale to flip the pages through. I found myself really enjoying the way the tales combined, without losing me as the reader. In a sense, there seemed to be an awareness in the text of making sure the reader understood where we were at each point in the story, and that although it bounced from one heightened story to another, they each worked together to create the overriding adventure story.

Although I'm not well versed on graphic novels, I can say that as a novice, I thought the story telling in this novel to be more engaging than some that I've read. There were enough heavy issues behind the tale, of Middle-Eastern conflict and of cultural identity, to make this more than just an adventure story. I suppose that I also liked the feel of escaping to this region of the globe, even if for just a moment. Overall, I found the story, pictures, and themes to be engaging and a nice escape for the evening. As far as the graphic novels I've read so far, this would be near the top of my list.

*FTC Disclosure: Review is based off of a library copy of the book.

If you're a graphic novel reader, what others would you recommend? I'm pretty new still to this genre, but have really enjoyed what I've been exposed to at this point. Are there any that I shouldn't miss, and that are your favorites?


  1. I really have to start reading graphic novels-this one looks beautiful.

  2. You wrote a really excellent summary of this GN. I liked reading it, too, but I thought the various explorations of different characters and culture could have been deeper--which I supposed means I wanted more! :)