A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression.

In 1983 South Korea, Kim was learning to navigate university and student political activism.

The daughter of modest restaurant owners, Kim was apolitical—she just wanted to make her parents proud and be worthy of her tuition expenses. Following an administrator’s advice to avoid trouble and pursue extracurriculars, she joined a folk dance team where she met a fellow student who invited her into a banned book club. Kim was fearful at first, but her thirst for knowledge soon won out. As she learned the truth of her country’s oppressive fascist political environment, Kim became closer to the other book club members while the authorities grew increasingly desperate to identify and punish student dissidents. The kinetic manhwa drawing style skillfully captures the personal and political history of this eye-opening memoir. The disturbing elements of political corruption and loss of human rights are lightened by moving depictions of sweet, funny moments between friends as well as deft political maneuvering by Kim herself when she was eventually questioned by authorities. The art and dialogue complement each other as they express the tension that Kim and her friends felt as they tried to balance school, family, and romance with surviving in a dangerous political environment. References to fake news and a divisive government make this particularly timely; the only thing missing is a list for further reading.

A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945820-42-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019



More text than younger readers will want to wade through, yet framed in a way that might seem silly to older readers.

A serviceable graphic summary of Darwin’s life and achievement, pegged somewhere between educational use for preteens and a primer for adult readers.

The latest collaboration between writer Byrne and illustrator Gurr (Bristol Story, 2007) is a little odd in light of both the publisher’s reputation and the conventions of the graphic format—this is far more text-heavy than what readers of graphic novels have come to expect, and attempts at a playful sense of humor seem strained. To questionable effect, the narrative is framed as an episode of “Ape TV,” in which apes learn about the life of the unlikely scientist whose theory that mankind and the ape were part of the same evolutionary process would be so transforming. Once readers get past those apes and into the story itself, they learn that Darwin was an indifferent student and someone whose future by no means seemed secured, until he received an invitation to take a voyage that “would not just change Darwin’s life, it would change the course of history.” The commander of an expedition was looking for “a gentleman-naturalist as a companion,” someone who could keep him company as more of an equal than the crew under him. It says something about Darwin’s lack of immediate plans that he was able to commit to a journey that was anticipated to last two years yet lasted five. The animals he encountered seemed so different than ones he’d known that he theorized that if it weren’t a matter of different conditions that resulted in such “transmutation,” they might well have had a different creator. The text corrects common misconceptions concerning “social Darwinism” and “survival of the fittest,” yet is misleading in its attempt to reconcile creationism with Darwin’s theory.

More text than younger readers will want to wade through, yet framed in a way that might seem silly to older readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58834-352-9

Page Count: 100

Publisher: Smithsonian Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012



Nothing new or revelatory here, but the book can serve as a good introduction to Jobs and will impress with its concision...

A free-wheeling graphic biography of Steve Jobs.

The late visionary behind Apple and Pixar lent himself to caricature, and illustrator Hartland (Bon Appétit: The Delicious Life of Julia Child, 2012, etc.) takes full advantage. Her inspirational version of the “insanely great” Jobs is a misfit who refused to follow the rules or play well with others, who was as rebellious as he was smart. Eventually becoming one of the richest men in the world, he followed a spiritual path of asceticism, looking for gurus, seeking a purer truth than can be found in material possessions. Yet he showed a remarkable lack of compassion and empathy toward his associates and was forced out of the Apple he had founded because others considered him so difficult. He wasn’t the computer whiz that his early collaborator Steve Wozniak was, but the marketing acumen of his passion for design and simplicity proved equally crucial in Apple’s transformation of the personal computer from a hobbyist pursuit into a paradigm-shifting commercial product. “Woz is the engineering genius,” the author writes in a kid’s scrawl that matches the rough-hewn illustrations. “Steve is the salesman with the big picture.” As she later quotes her subject, who saw Apple prosper beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, “I don’t think it would have happened without Woz and I don’t think it would have happened without me.” Recognizing his own deficiencies, Jobs recruited Pepsi’s John Sculley to run the company: “While Steve knows himself to be quirky, tactless, confrontational, and insensitive, he knows Sculley is polite, polished, and easygoing”—though inevitably, there was a power struggle between the two. The narrative somehow squeezes Jobs’ important innovations—the iMac, the music empire of iPods and iTunes, the smartphone revolution, the iPad—into a breezy narrative that engages and entertains.

Nothing new or revelatory here, but the book can serve as a good introduction to Jobs and will impress with its concision those who already know a lot about him.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-307-98295-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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