Sattouf deploys a springy black line and a striking palette of creamy pastels. The pages have a clean, almost candied-looking surface, which can exist in stark contrast to some of the horrors depicted ... This volume is dominated by life in Syria, and it’s the best of the books yet. The first to make me laugh out loud, it’s also the darkest. The book succeeds because it concentrates on his deeply strained family dynamics, and it looks outward, more explicitly than its predecessors, toward how those conflicts reflect or embody global ones. Both arenas produce violence, which is here often represented by red, coloring imagined killings (Riad’s intense fantasy life) and real pain including the harsh physical punishment of children at school, marital discord, vociferous anger.
Three volumes into the series, we’ve grown somewhat inured to the casual brutality of Riad’s existence but continue to marvel at his resilience. Sattouf’s cartoony graphics, rather than being incongruous with the grim reality they depict, accentuate the story’s dark humor and make Riad’s harrowing tale go down a bit easier.
In the third volume of his magnificent five-part memoir ... the series builds in maturity and depth, Sattouf depicts in unsettling detail how political and religious indoctrination can infect even the most well-meaning idealists. This is essential reading both for graphic novel fans and to provide human context to global political conflicts.