Habibi – Craig Thompson

April 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

I loved Blankets. I don’t remember much of what the book was all about, and I must say I was slightly “shocked” to see my previous post, that Blankets was about Christianity, and the author’s journey in understanding his faith.

Then I started understanding Habibi in a different light all together. It’s not about Christianity, but it is about faith, and stories, and how much of our faith is made up of little stories along the way. It’s not so much about Islam, but perhaps more about the stories within Islam, the myths and legends surrounding the prophets, and the author’s own depictions and interpretations of what they might mean.

One very interesting part of the graphic novel, one which I loved immensely, was the play on Islamic calligraphy. I’ve always loved languages and writing, and I’ve found Arabic calligraphy to be very beautiful. It flows like a long river, meandering through the page, and I found lots of reference to this in Habibi. Absolutely beautiful visuals, as is characteristic of Thompson (or at least, when compared to Blankets, which is the only other book of his that I’ve ever read), and so uniquely tied in to the plot and the characters.

It must have took a great deal of research.

At the same time, though, I feel the book a little on the “heavy” side. For some reason, I remember Blankets to be very quiet, almost silent. But Habibi was anything but. There was something happening on every page, in every panel, and the intertwining timelines that merged into each other was a little too seamless for me. It wasn’t “action-packed”, but I felt like there was no platform to stop and think, or even breathe. The story went on and on and on, and even at the chapter breaks, it was a little “noisy”.

I would have preferred a more silent book. Perhaps it is my own preference, or perhaps my mood was simply not in the right place. Then again, maybe I should have read it slowly, let the characters speak slowly, and let the calligraphy move around me like it did the characters.

I liked the story, the characters, and especially the calligraphy and visuals. Everything seemed like the perfect ingredients to make the perfect book. I loved the fact that little stories and myths were made so much an integral part of the plot, because I love them. And how they related back to what the characters were feeling and going through in life just made it so much better.

But somehow, the perfect ingredients didn’t merge into the perfect dish. Great book, just not perfect. Not for me, anyway.

 

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