Classes start for me tomorrow, and due to a university-wide failure of the webmail system, I am unable to complete the last task I had on today's agenda: sending out virtual copies of my syllabi.
My loss is your... "also loss," however, as this gives me time to write a review of Aristophane's The Zabime Sisters, a book getting high praise from Matt Madden and YALSA/ALA, which listed it as among the best graphic novels for teens this year.
I don't get it, at all. Or, if I do get it, I see it as more evidence that 2010 year was a relatively weak one for graphic novels.
The story is one of three sisters growing up in the jungle town of Guadeloupe. They get bored, get a little drunk, a little flirty, and then go home. The most interesting characters are the boys who fight over them, or for their own reputations, simply because fighting is a way in which the young men of the village earn status and divvy up their self-imposed caste system. There is little growth for the female leads, and while I'm typically a fan of slice-of-life fiction, I like it to go somewhere. The Zabime Sisters doesn't offer much direction for reader or the girls.
What's worse, the dry brush ink technique that has been praised by others seems to me poorly applied. The characters often blend into the thick scrapes of landscape, and while I suppose this could have been intentional, the affect falls as flat as the story for me.
I'm not saying this graphic novel is terrible, but it doesn't strike me as deserving of as much praise as it has garnered. Madden calls it a bit of a departure from Aristophane's other work, which I really do want to check out, a happy consequence of reading this translation. I prefer the term the Frenchman used to describe The Zabime Sisters, himself, though: modest.
Labels: 2010, Aristophane, the Zabime Sisters