Raina's Reviews > Habibi

Habibi by Craig Thompson
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's review
Dec 13, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: adult, adoption, graphicnovel, gltbq, religious
Read in December, 2011

I understand why this might be called a Masterwork. It really is beautiful and complex, epic and ambitious. Personally, I connected with the adoption story, at least in its early stages (;)).

And I. Loved. Blankets. Thompson's earlier monsterwork was the reason I realized I was a comics fiend. The portal I took to appreciating alternative and autobiographical comics for grownups (it didn't hurt that I shared my very unique first name with the object of the protagonist's affections in that novel). And Carnet de Voyage is one of my favorite graphic novel travelogues of all time (and I make a point of reading a lot of those).

But something about this one didn't quite click for me.

I admire its ambition and beauty and scope. I'm intrigued by the subject matter. I kept flipping the pages and read this monolith of a book in just a couple of days. I enjoyed it.

But my expectations are raised for the guy who got me into comics.

And I didn't connect. It's not quite fair to Thompson to expect more from him than I do from other comic artists. But the fact remains I do. And I didn't recognize myself in this (the way I had both literally and figuratively in previous works). I learned things from this novel, primarily about muslim scriptural texts and the arabic language, but I wasn't fascinated by them. I got a little lost in all the alphabetical symbolism (even though I - probably unlike many of his other readers - have a rudimentary understanding of how arabic works from a Tunisian exchange student we had when I was a kid). I felt like this was a story that didn't need to be told out of order. When the timeline jumped, I disconnected from the story, instead of feeling pulled in.

I would be curious to read this again, or talk to someone who only ever read it without all the scriptural and alphabetical references, and with the story told in a linear timeline. I feel like the story of these two people is epic enough without all the extra stuff.

I love you, Craig, I really do.

And I normally adore your stuff.

But I have some nits to pick on this one.

See also the reviews from Samrat, ilike merey, and Sarah Pi for really really insightful thoughts.
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