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Pencil Lines and Plotlines

A Reader's Odyssey in Graphic Literature

By Xine SegalasPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - December 2023

This year, I dove into a few graphic novels - I wanted to mix things up since I have been reading an average of over 60 books a year. I thought it would be nice to expand my literary horizons and slip back to a genre that I was comfortable with from the beginning.

As a young reader, I always gravitated towards comic books and visual stories. I remember spending my library time in elementary school with one of the Adventures of Tin Tin by Herge. I struggled with reading and the pictures were engaging and drew me more into the story. Plus, there seemed like there were less words to have to get through.

Fast forward to 2023 and I hadn't read a graphic novel in years, but I remembered liking Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Last year, I came across Almost American Girl by Robin Ha when voting on 2022 Goodreads books. I love to peruse the nominations and add to my TBR list when I see something interesting. It was a great read and wonderful reintroduction into the graphic novel format.

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Moving is one of the most stressful things people do in life. We’ve all experienced it at one point or another, and if you haven’t — at some point, you will. But most people don’t move to a new country, and for those who do, the experience is even more scary and filled with barriers such as the language.

Almost American Girl is a touching YA graphic novel about a middle-school-aged girl being uprooted by her mother from her home in Korea to live in America. Robin Ha’s honest and poignant portrait of her relationship with her mother is powerful and relatable on many levels.

I loved Ha’s illustrative style; the format was an inviting framework for her memoir. This story is pertinent in many ways to more than just the young adult reader. 4.5 Stars rounded to 5 for the Goodreads star system.

I swear I need to made a note of how some books end up on my TBR List. Most likely, I discovered Isabel Greenberg's books through Goodreads. It tends to be my primary source sometimes when I am looking for something in a specific genre.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The 100 Nights of Hero is a beautifully illustrated, delightful retelling of literature's ancient tale, One Thousand and One Nights, but with a feminist twist. In the same way Scheherazade cleverly tells her stories to save her life, Isabel Greenberg's Hero tells her nested tales to protect the virtue of her lover, Cherry. Each story is more riveting than the last; they weave a visual tapestry of the misogynistic world of Midgal Bavel. I enjoyed this book and was enchanted by Greenberg's unique, whimsical style and gift for captivating her readers. 4 Stars

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is a graphic novel with interesting and imaginative woodcut-style illustrations by Isabell Greenberg. The nested story style is one that Greenberg is comfortable with, and I have seen her use it in other graphic novels.

The story follows the journey of a boy from his home at the North Pole to the South Pole, where he finds true love. The stories are all retellings of well-known biblical and mythological tales, and after a while, I started to get a bit bored. The last two stories seemed out of sequence with the rest of the book, although it is an “encyclopedia,” which isn’t necessarily sequential.

This was the second book I have read of Isabelle Greenberg’s, although this was her debut novel. There were many similarities between the two books, and what I found unique and exciting the first time wasn’t as much as the second time around.

Do you like reading graphic novels? I would be interested to learning about some of your favorite graphic novels. Leave me a note in the comments with your recommendations.

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About the Creator

Xine Segalas

Exploring life through writing, art, and photography, drawing inspiration from the natural world and beloved tales. Author of "Xine's Pack of Strays & Others," about life with my dogs, I review books, hoping to encourage others to read.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (6)

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  • Test3 months ago

    Well done! Keep pushing forward with your excellent work—congrats!

  • k eleanor4 months ago

    I have read the one hundred nights of hero and I must say Greenberg’s artwork is whimsical, and her plots reference countless fables. But there’s also real darkness, and the stories speak movingly of the desperation of a narrow, patriarchal world in which “happily ever after” often translates as forced marriage to a strange man.

  • Oooo, all of these 3 books seem to be very intriguing! Also, this sentence "We’ve all experienced it at one point or another, and if you haven’t — at some point, you will", seemed like a threat 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • Kendall Defoe 4 months ago

    These interest me.. Thanks!

  • I've never been into comics nor graphic novels... always felt I would get too hung up on examining the artwork... will have to give it a try, between books.

  • Daphsam4 months ago

    Wow this is a fascinating detailed book review!

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