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Couscous Express Paperback – November 5, 2001
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From the Publisher
Best known for his graphic narrative Channel Zero, Brian Wood also spent a year writing Mutant Teenagers from Marvel Comics' Generation X. He devoted four years previous to studying at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City. A veteran designer from the Internet boom of the late nineties, Wood currently designs for the stylish and much-respected videogame publisher, Rockstar Games.
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But this 74 page graphic novel's main focus isn't them; it focuses instead on Olive Yassin, Moustafa's girlfriend, scooter enthusiast and spoiled brat. She works for her parents at the Couscous Express, a Middle Eastern take-out restaurant. But she doesn't like it there, she'd much rather do other things. That contributes to the friction she has with her parents, but we see that is just the tip of the iceberg; turns out her parents are under the protection of a Turkish Mafia gang who collects money from them on a regular basis.
Interjected with plenty of action scenes, this story moves at a pace THE COURIERS series are known for: fast and exciting at every turn. It feels and reads like an action movie, with a tinge of urban touch to it. Brian balances the silent scenes, the narrative scenes and the dialogue scenes very nicely, giving it a flow like few action comics I've read, a page turner. The dialogue feels natural as well. The sequences have a good rhythm to them and the street language-like language is what pushes them forward.
It didn't need outlandish art to shine. Not Greg Land's or Alex Ross' ultra realistic pictures, but Brett Weldele's stripped down style. This graphic novel shows that you don't need outstanding art to produce a good story. Get this and get the entire series of THE COURIERS along with it. Although I didn't like the main series as much as COUSCOUS EXPRESS, you will be much poorer in your literary experience not to pick them up along with this one.
Couscous Express isn't high concept, it has a simple plot, simple artwork, nothing to fancy in the writing... but its the way it comes together which seals the deal - the characterisation is excellent, and the artwork (although a little consistant) always manages to bring it out in a way that more complicated artwork might not.
The later couriers books (the two i've read, at any rate) are fun reads, but they don't really live up to this - there isn't nearly as much to draw the reader in, or make the reader care what happens to the characters in those books then there is here. The story has more nuances, the artwork is much less consistant but works just as well, if not better, for its simplicity and seemingly random style changes, and its nice to have such a flawed protagonist. No-one will ever look up to Olive Yassin, she certainly isn't a role model, but everyone will recognise her personality...
Anyway, my largest complaint is that the story is perhaps a little too short, but then maybe thats just wishful thinking - I can't see what you'd add to it, and you certainly couldn't take anything away from it. Take a look... you might be pleasantly suprised.
As a whole, the story feels very shallow and trivial. There was little emotion put into this book. The plot is very obvious, and the characters seem to have no interest in what they're doing.
The art is decent, but stylistically changes at random for seemingly no reason.
Be warned, just pass.