Persepolis, Aquarium and Room – Reviews

Sometimes it’s fun to read outside one’s preferred genre. I enjoy reading all kinds of books: literary fiction, historical fiction, comics, thrillers…although I draw the line at romance. Here are brief reviews of the last three books I’ve read that are not science fiction / fantasy. All worth reading!

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
persepolisI read Persepolis because it was on my library Book Club reading list. I didn’t go for the Book Club discussion eventually – but I am so glad I got to read this beautiful, funny, sad book. Persepolis, Volume 1, is a graphic memoir by Marjane Satrapi, set in Iran of the 1980s, just after the revolution that kicked out the Shah and brought in the fundamentalists to power. Coming from a political, educated family, Marjane struggles with the disappearances of family members, the death of friends from Scud missiles, and her own relationship with God. The drawings are comic-book style, the content is disturbing. A must-read for anyone. Don’t miss the prologue, which gives a very brief historical background to the book.

Aquarium by David Vann
aquariumThis is, for want of a better phrase, a ‘coming-of-age’ novel about a 12-year old girl who visits the aquarium after school while waiting for her mother to finish her shift and pick her up. While at the aquarium, she meets and befriends a mysterious old man. I’d already guessed at the connection, so it wasn’t much of a mystery. But the book is well-written, as it explores the legacy of abuse and abandonment. The only thing that doesn’t quite ring true is the narrative voice – it sounds older than a 12-year old would, even a sophisticated one. Additionally, I found the behavior of the protagonist’s mother believable only in the context of mental illness. Still, a recommended read.

Room by Emma Donoghue
roomWritten by Emma Donoghue, this 2010 novel was a bestseller and shortlisted for the Booker prize. Not hard to see why. It’s a gripping account of the enslavement (and eventual escape) of a young woman by an abusive kidnapper, told from the point of view of her (‘their’) five-year old son. Definitely tugs the emotional heartstrings! Nor does the book end with their escape. It explores the aftermath of their ordeal, how they both eventually make a life for themselves outside the ‘Room’ in which they were bound. Highly recommended! My only problem was, once again, the narrative voice. It is simply not the voice of a five-year old. It is the author’s voice, passing itself off as a five-year old. It works in some places, and not in others.

Next on my list is Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, and it’s simply hilarious. Re-reading the Discworld is turning out to be even more fun than I thought it would be. Besides, nothing like a dose of comic fantasy to cheer one up after reading about war, death, abuse and terror. One can only take so much reality.

About Rati Mehrotra

Science fiction and fantasy writer. I blog at: Thanks for dropping by!
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1 Response to Persepolis, Aquarium and Room – Reviews

  1. Ariel Bolton says:

    I really liked Persepolis too. There’s also a movie of Books 1 and 2 that preserves the simplicity of the drawings in the animation.


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