Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review & Rant: American Born Chinese/ Graphic Novels

American Born Chinese
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Date Published: September 5th, 2006
Publisher: First Second
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 235

I ended up picking up this graphic novel for several reasons:

(1) I've been trying to give graphic novels a fair chance.
(2) As an Asian Studies Major I am always interested in anything related to that particular region.
(3) The name caught my interest since I am an American born Cuban and thought I might be able to relate.
(4) I had heard lovely things about it.

I ended up reading this in one sitting after unboxing it and quite enjoyed it but not as much as I was hoping to (but more on why later). I enjoyed the four different character stories and thought it was really neat how all four came together at the end. I really wasn't expecting it to happen the way it did and so I give the author a lot of props for keeping me on my toes. The individual characters were interesting and funny at times. I didn't end up relating as much as I had wanted to because our environments had been different. Whereas they were growing up in a town that had a very low population of Asian students, I was born and raised in Miami, Florida where the majority of the population is Cuban or Hispanic in general. Thus, I didn't feel the alienation nor the inclination to be anything other than what I was. I did however go through a phase where I only wanted to speak English but that's a topic for another day! :)

Overall, I enjoyed the story for what it was while I was reading it. But here is where my issues start and it is not particularly with the story itself. I am NOT the biggest fan of graphic novels for various reasons. For one, I don't enjoy the length. I know many people love the brevity of a graphic novel but I personally think it goes by way too fast. I feel like I make no connection to these characters whatsoever and character connection is one of my favorite parts about reading. As soon as I am done reading a graphic novel I forget the characters and why they matter. I know that it would probably be a bit different if I read a long series and had more time with the characters but part of what makes me pick up a second book in a series is my interest in what happens to those characters. If I don't feel like I know the characters then I am less likely to care or be interested.

Another issue I have is the lack of back story or internal thoughts. Again, this is a personal preference and I am sure there are some graphic novels out there that have more of this, I just haven't found them. I love seeing a characters thoughts before and after a situation but the graphic novels I've read tend to be more about the present and in the moment. I also love the set up of a world, its history and its ins and outs and I don't get that very often in graphic novels.

Regardless, I haven't given up on graphic novels or my quest to find one that blows me away and changes my mind. I will continue to read them because there are good stories within their pages and it would be a disservice to myself not to read them just because of a few issues.

If you guys have read any great graphic novels you think I just HAVE to read, let me know! :)

Also, let me know if you feel the same way or if you LOVE them!


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