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review 2015-10-11 19:41
Aya: Love in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet
Aya: Love in Yop City - Marguerite Abouet

This book contains the final three graphic novels in the Aya series, which have apparently only appeared in English in omnibus form. This makes good sense, since each volume is short and incomplete in itself. This series is very consistent, with enjoyable characters and excellent, colorful illustrations. I’ve never agreed with the folks who see it as simply a lighthearted romp that shows a positive side of Africa – the storylines here include Aya and her classmates being sexually assaulted by a violent biology professor; Innocent living on the edge as an immigrant in Paris; and Felicite being kidnapped by her greedy father when news of her success as a model reaches her village – but it has a positive tone and shows characters emerging victorious from the problems life throws at them. I was initially skeptical about graphic novels for adults, but enjoyed this series and would be happy to read more books like this.

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review 2015-06-20 18:51
Aya: The Secrets Come Out by Marguerite Abouet
The Secrets Come Out - Marguerite Abouet,Clément Oubrerie

This is a fun series and a consistent one - once you've read the first book (and you really do need to read them in order), you know what you're getting. The more time I spent with Aya and her family and friends, the more involved in their lives I felt: this is a fun story that draws you in, with a quick pace, believable characters and colorful, evocative artwork that really brings to life the Ivory Coast of the 1970s. Abouet deals with some heavy topics, like patriarchy and sexual mores, in a story that's fun rather than dour; however, it still seems to me that if (as the marketing seems to claim) these books represent the Ivory Coast (let alone all of Africa) at its best, that country has a long way to go.


At any rate, I'm definitely enjoying this series; the third book has a solid conclusion, but I look forward to reading the following volumes.

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review 2015-06-20 18:32
Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet
Aya of Yop City - Marguerite Abouet,Clément Oubrerie

I enjoyed this second volume in the series: the story is engaging, the artwork vibrant, and the characters distinct. I still think the marketing of this series overstates its supposed lightheartedness and positivity in a major way; yes, it's set in Africa without including war, abject poverty, sickness, etc., but it's still by and large a story of working-class folks dealing with the fallout of their egregious sexual behavior (the girls' fathers are particularly shameless). Acting like the events of this series comprise the brightest and most hopeful story ever told about Africa misstates the contents of the books and isn't a very positive statement about Africa either. Rounding down to three stars for the abrupt ending; fortunately, you're most likely to read this volume as part of an omnibus, as I did, so you can move right along to the third in the series.

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review 2015-04-03 23:59
Aya by Marguerite Abouet
Aya - Marguerite Abouet,Clément Oubrerie

My rating of this one may not be reliable, as I have little experience with graphic novels. I'm calling it 3.5, because I enjoyed it well enough.


This graphic novel is set in the urban Ivory Coast in the 1970s, following the (mis)adventures of three teenage girls from working-class families. Aya, our protagonist, is the responsible, studious one, with the result that she's often sidelined in favor of her more hedonistic friends.


The book's marketing is a little odd. Yes, it's a story set in Africa without war, famine and so on, but the introduction and blurbs build this period up as a golden age to the point that it starts to sounds like they're saying people living normal lives in Africa is a totally bizarre and fleeting phenomenon. Also, after consistently seeing the book referred to as "charming" and "lighthearted," I was surprised to find how much of the story revolves around promiscuity and sexual harassment. Aya's father tries to pick up a hooker by the side of the road after lying to her mom about it; her best friend goes out dancing (in a very sexual way) with another friend's father, and jumps into the back seat of a car with a boy who bores her the moment she discovers he has money; Aya herself, though uninterested in these shenanigans, is consistently harassed by men on the street and once almost assaulted by a random guy who apparently feels entitled to her attention by virtue of being male. There is certainly humor here, and I laughed out loud at least once, but it isn't all fun and games.


That said, I did enjoy the book. It is entertaining and easy to follow, the sizable cast all have distinct personalities, which seems pretty good for a graphic novel of under 100 pages, and the colorful illustrations do an excellent job of bringing the story and the setting to life. I am not in a rush to read the next in the series, but would be happy to do so at some point.

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text 2014-03-04 22:29
Books I read in February
The Heiresses - Allison Rushby
Just One Day - Gayle Forman
Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad - Ellen Levine
Aya: Love in Yop City - Marguerite Abouet,Clément Oubrerie
Manor of Secrets - Katherine Longshore
Raunchy 3: Jayden's Passion - T. Styles

In the month of february I read 4 books, a graphic novel and listened to an audio book. It was a good reading month. I enjoyed all six, some more than others. 


The Standouts 


Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine


Aya: Love In Yop City by Marguerite Abouet


The Just Ok


Manor Of Secrets by Katherine Longshore


Just One Day by Gayle Forman




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