Burmese Moons by Sophie Ansel

details
Title: Burmese Moons.
Writer(s): Sophie Ansel.
Translated by: Jeremy Melloul.
Artist(s): Sam Garcia.
Letterer(s): Frank Cvetkovic.
Publisher: IDW Publishing.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: September 17th 2019.
Pages: 216.
Genre(s): Comics, Historical Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781684052721.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

thoughts

To escape the harsh reality we live in, we often find refuge in countless works of fiction. These stories that allow us to escape and entertain us aren’t, however, an excuse to turn a blind eye on the cruelty that proliferates around the world and sometimes right under us. It’s often quite easy for many of us to feel less concerned by events that occur outside of our immediate environment and even more when a whole ocean separates us from it. The perfect example is the myriad of wars that see no end around the world that are barely a little gnawing thought at the back of our heads while others remain completely oblivious to their existence. Following her journey in Burma, Malaysia, Thailand and other surrounding countries from 2007 to 2012, Sophie Ansel shares an eye-opening and tragic story based on the People Power Uprising of 1988.

What is Burmese Moons about? Right in the jungle of Burma lies a tribe of the Zomi ethnic group where the young Thazama and his buddy Moonpi thrive towards adulthood and embrace the customs and beliefs of their community. While secretly in love with Kim, Thazama isn’t, however, ready for what life has in store for him. The Burmese revolution of 1988 thus begins and the Zomi tribe is dumbstruck as the brutal military rulers of Myanmar wreak havoc and force everyone into slavery and torture. Following each of their tragic life trajectories, the story unveils a tale of hardship with almost no hope at the end of the tunnel. All they have left is to fight for freedom through resistance until their stories are heard by the right people.

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In all honesty, I only knew about Aung San Suu Kyi back in high school and how she became a prominent icon but never got around to further document myself on the context and her role during the 1988 uprisings. This graphic novel served as an excellent and accessible entry point to understanding the worse of the war that developed and what it has done to many of the inhabitants and the generations to come. It is to be noted that this story felt like a descent into tragedies that only seemed to get worse as you flipped through the story, with not a single moment of respite. While it might have been a perfect portrayal of the lives of some people, this massacre of a burgeoning revolution won’t allow any sunshine throughout your reading experience as it portrays the cruelest facets of humankind.

Inevitably, the message behind this story is clear and invites those who indulge freedom on a daily basis within a democracy, to take action and fight for those who have lost theirs in the midst of these futile wars. To do so, the story felt like it was hammering countless inhuman acts, one after the other, to make it clear to the reader that there’s absolutely nothing pretty about this military dictatorship. The artwork wasn’t also my cup of tea, with a very rough and unrefined style that still, however, did a decent job in portraying the horrors that unfold throughout this tragic story. The dialogues are also sometimes too clean and dramatically change in tone, as it swaps around from foul language to poetic messages. While the ideas were all there, it was in the flow that it never ebbed to my liking.

Burmese Moons is an astonishing and shocking tale of the perseverance of a community stripped of its freedom in their own country.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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21 thoughts on “Burmese Moons by Sophie Ansel

  1. I’m kind of disappointed this isn’t a whole book… I feel like it would have made a great novel.

    Also- normally I wouldn’t rush to add something that someone rated 3 stars.. but that cover though… lol. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it would’ve been fun to see a historical fiction with this event at the heart of it too. Especially when I always tend to go for WWII stories instead hahah

      Can’t blame you cause I sort of was also lured by the cover and the subject of matter for this one hahah Thanks for reading, Sarah! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think I have read anything related to Burma. And the fact that so much (incl serious themes) is conveyed in a graphic novel format makes me very interested. Good review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A graphic novel with such a theme? Those two do not seem to go well for me.
    The language issue is also something I dislike. I don’t mind curse words, but when they come up out of the blue, it just turns me off and the characters become less believable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh but that’s the magic of graphic novels! There are amazing stories of this kind that make you reflect a lot on issues that are worth picking up.
      And I agree. In this case, I really found that there were two language styles that didn’t work well together and that never helped me enjoy this more than I could’ve.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah I’m not a fan of these war stories that are like memoirs in graphic novel form. I see them reviewed all the time and want to like them. Think the idea of them is sound but I rarely feel like adding them to my TBR. TBH its all probably down to the art. I can’t read something where I think the art is poor (like here…) it pretty obvious that the art is a bit of a gimmick to make this easier to read and perhaps even to broaden the audience a bit. 😀 Great review though Lashaan!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some powerful thoughts Lashaan and a reminder that comics as a medium can do more than just tell fictional stories about superheroes and other fantasy characters…although I agree that the art looks a little off and perhaps would contribute to the final product not quite gelling, but still it shines light on an important and tragic real world issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It sounds so interesting! I have absolutely no knowledge of this part of history 😯 I think that sharing history through comic books is one of the best ways to do it! Easy to read, illustrated and enjoyable! Unfortunately, I haven’t read anything like that before… I think… 😂 The cover is fantastic 😱

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s truly tragic. At the end of the book there’s a real-life account of people the author met with and it shows the scars some have endured or their very poor life conditions. It’s not an easy read but the story sort of overfocused on the tragedy. And yes, the medium is perfect to illustrate these kinds of stories. They just need to be better illustrated hhahaha

      Liked by 1 person

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