Thursday, May 20, 2021

Djeliya by Juni Ba

I really like graphic-novels but I'm super picky about which ones I like, so making a selection sometimes ends up being totally random. DJELIYA is a post-apocalyptic fantasy graphic-novel based on West African folklore. It's about an evil wizard who lives in a magical ivory tower that ended up destroying the world. Now the kingdom is kind of a post-apocalyptic wasteland with people throwing their weight around for clout, power, and magic.

The hero and heroine of this book are Mansour, a prince who is the son of a powerful king named Keita, and Awa, Mansour's djeli, which seems to be something between a vizier and a bard. As they journey to the tower, they get caught up in various adventures and power struggles, while also learning more about their own pasts and ambitions. It's a thoughtful tale that incorporates African language, religion, and writings (with helpful translations on-page and a little mini-glossary in the back). The story was confusing for me to follow at first but all of the distinct characters and the layout of the panels made it easier for me to follow and pretty soon I began to enjoy myself a lot as I lost myself in this bizarre and colorful world.

At the back, Juni Ba says he was inspired by Cartoon Network, and I'm glad he said that because his style was reminding me of something-- 90s cartoons! All those bright colors, high contrasts, and stark linework really reminded me of the comics and cartoons I consumed in my youth. Reading this gave me an incredibly nostalgic feeling, even though it's a modern work. I liked that a lot. The content in this book is somewhat mature but not graphic in terms of violence or sex, and I would say that it would be OK for most teens to read. Especially if they love fantasy and dystopians. If you enjoy graphic-novels and are looking for a fun intro into West African folklore, this would be a great book for you!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

3.5 out of 5 stars

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