Aya: Love in Yop City [collected edition 2] – Marguerite Abouet

Love in Yop CityThis collected edition bundles the last three books in English into a paperback volume. The size and printing are the same and it has all the extras. The paperback nature means the large spine will crease almost immediately but it will open fully allowing you to read the centre pages with ease. This book is designed for readers not collectors.

The printing and paper stock is just as nice as the hardback volumes and it is much more portable and affordable. Also you won’t be waiting for the next book after the cliff-hangers of books four and five.

The extras are contained at the back including some of Abouet’s own experiences about emigrating to France and the problems of Ivorian religion. There are two portraits, a black and white sketch and several recipes as well as the family tree at the beginning to remind you who everyone is and how they are related.

Thumbs Up!

Aya: Volume 6 – Marguerite Abouet

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This is the final volume and you have been dying to know all about Moussa. It doesn’t disappoint.

The pacing feels a little awkward however. There are several full page panels, which are nice to see artistically, but you fear that they are there as padding instead. The end itself comes rather abruptly with a lot being crammed into a final three panels. A lot has been wrapped up before then however and as it is technically Aya’s journey she takes a step forward with her life. You do find yourself wishing that there were at least a few more pages, and not just because you are so attached to the wonderful and unique characters.

Stylistically Oubrerie takes few risks but there are some scenes of dappled shading from trees that just don’t work for me. This looks out of place but doesn’t diminish the superb drawing and colouring throughout.

Thumbs Up!

Aya: Love in Yop City– Marguerite Abouet

Aya05Here is another great helping of Aya. Whilst not totally autobiographical it is fascinating and enriching to follow the lives of people living a world away from our own.

This is such an absorbing tale that begins with a great opening and has an excellent ending, meaning you can’t wait for the final instalment.

The art is superb as always with Paris and Yopougon having a different feel. The expressions are wonderful and give a real warmth and energy to the piece.

Thumbs Up!

Aya: Life in Yop City– Marguerite Abouet

aya04This wonderful series continues shortly after the events of the last volume. It expertly balances lots of different storylines both in Africa and France and switches between them seamlessly.

The theme of women’s empowerment continues and we get an insight into how rape fitted into the society of the period. Such intense subject matter is handled maturely and objectively although being as attached to the characters as we are we do feel a strong reaction.

The art is consistent in its beauty and style. Unusually we see real photographs used in a cutaway sequence about matrimonial advice that is reminiscent of the photo stories that would have littered teenage magazines of the period. Despite the shock of this unusual technique it sits comfortably in the hand-drawn world Clement Oubrerie paints for us.

You probably won’t find this volume in English and need to look for it as part of a collected edition.

Thumbs Up!

Aya: Life in Yop City [collected edition 1] – Marguerite Abouet

Life in Yop CityThis collected edition bundles the first three books in English into a paperback volume. The size and printing are the same and it has all the extras at the back. The paperback nature means the large spine will crease almost immediately but it will open fully allowing you to read the centre pages with ease.

It isn’t as nice as the hardback volumes but it is much more portable and affordable. This is an excellent introduction and means you won’t be waiting for the next book after the cliff-hangers of books one and two.

The extras are contained at the back and there is the handy family tree at the beginning to remind you who everyone is and how they are related.

Thumbs Up!

Aya: The Secrets Come Out – Marguerite Abouet

Aya03Don’t think of these as separate volumes just a long story divided into chapters. We resume almost where the last one finished.

The pace is the same effortless ride as the previous instalments but it feels like this has so much more crammed in. More characters are introduced and fleshed out and the existing ones have all sorts of trials and excitement.

Also the quiet theme of feminism and change that has been peeking out from behind the curtain gets centre stage. The sexual politics goes even further than that. Whilst this definitely has a lot to say in these regards it doesn’t feel preachy or out of place. This is the growing and changing attitudes of the world as a whole in the 1980’s.

The art also becomes more dramatic. The wonderful style, hand-drawing everything including the panel edges is maintained but the colours just leap off the page. With more nocturnal scenes, flashbacks, and wonderful fashions the colours take their own turn in the spotlight.

There isn’t the exciting cliff hanger of the previous books but there is so much drama throughout the story that you can’t wait for the next one.

Thumbs Up!

Aya of Yop City – Marguerite Abouet

Aya02This book takes over from the last with the birth of Adjoua’s baby and the commotion it brings. This work is full of small dramas and seems to be all about putting things into motion rather than wrapping them up. You get the feeling Aya and her community have a long journey ahead, which you will undoubtedly enjoy. There is another cliff hanger at the end, which you have been suspecting, if you were paying attention, ensuring you can’t wait for the next book.

The art is just as perfect as the previous volume and the colours that bring it to life are just stunning. It feels like there are more full page panels too that bring a wider perspective to this intimate human drama. Quality touches like split panel telephone calls and mock photographs give it a real charm.

At the back there is another glossary, a recipe, a description of how newborns are cared for within the community and how to make a baby sling. There is also an extensive interview with the author reproduced from Wild River Review magazine.

A wonderfully crafted continuation of Ivorian life in the 70’s that is relatable to all readers.

Thumbs Up!

Aya – Marguerite Abouet

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This is a wonderful slice of teenage life, all about growing up on the Ivory Coast in the 1970’s. This simple yet accessible drama feels rich and authentic. Its universal themes allow us to empathise with the characters and laugh both with and at them, no doubt remembering our own adolescence. It is a privilege to see into another culture, especially when it is so expertly portrayed.

The art is great. Oubrerie’s cartoonish style adds so much character and warmth to the people and places he illustrates. He has a Herge style that is perfect for the laid back and friendly community that he brings to life.

There is a great piece of lettering when people all talk at once their speech text overlaps which I have never seen before. There is also another instance where a character looks out of frame right at the reader and you can’t help but laugh.

At the back there is glossary but you are able to work out the meanings of the words by the context they are in so you don’t need to keep flipping backwards and forwards, a sign of great writing. There are also fashion tips, a dance move, recipes for food and drink and a map.

The story, the showing, the telling, the extras and the hardback format all play their part in making this a Double Thumbs Up!