5 Bubble Teas, ARC, Graphic Novel, Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, Memoir, Review, Ryan Estrada

Advance Review: Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ryan Estrada, and Ko Hyung-Ju


Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ryan Estrada, and Ko Hyung-Ju

Published by Iron Circus Comics on May 1st, 2020

Genres: Graphic Novel, Memoir

Pages: 204


Rating: 0ac4e714f53d9781e649ddaa06048d9b0ac4e714f53d9781e649ddaa06048d9b0ac4e714f53d9781e649ddaa06048d9b0ac4e714f53d9781e649ddaa06048d9b0ac4e714f53d9781e649ddaa06048d9b

“That’s why we protest. That’s why we have events like this. That’s why we read books we’re not supposed to.”

*ARC received by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love graphic novels? I really want to prioritize reading more of them especially since I loved Banned Book Club so much.

Set in 1983, this graphic novel memoir follows Kim Hyun Sook excited for college in South Korea. She’s ready for her world to open up and eager to learn the ideas of Western Literature. But this was during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors.

So when the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invites Hyun Sook to join his private reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club.

Hyun Sook quickly discovers that in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence.


I’m ashamed to say that I really didn’t know that much about South Korean history and politics before reading this fantastic book.

And it’s a fantastic way to experience history.

In just over 200 pages, Kim takes you on a ride of the highs and lows of education and self-discovery through reading.

It felt thrilling to follow along as they read The Feminine Mystique and The Motorcycle Diaries. They risked imprisonment to learn such revolutionary concepts.

Even though the story can get very dark with depictions of violence against protestors, the book is ultimately very uplifting.

Kim has the characters continuing to fight for democracy, fight for what’s right, and fight to change society for the better.

Progress is not a straight line. Never take it for granted.


Through stark black and white imagery, you get to learn about just how deeply rooted political division, fear-mongering, and anti-intellectualism can go.

What measures can be taken even against an action such as reading.

If you’re looking for something that’s fast-paced and action packed, I’d definitely recommend this.

The artwork is stunning and it’s a book that I hope will be read by students to understand that you should always continue to fight.

I found that I no longer understood the rules of the world I lived in. The book club was my way of finding answers.

If there’s one thing you can take away from this book, it would be to read banned books. Open yourself up to other viewpoints so you can get a better understanding of the world.

I can’t wait for this to come out so I can add this to my collection!


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