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Category Archives: Graphic Novel

Laddertop by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card: Manga Review

Book: Laddertop, Volume 1  by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card,  Illustrated by Honoel A. Ibardolaza, Tor Seven Seas, September 27, 2011

Genre: Middle Grade / Young Adult Science Fiction Manga

Format/pages/source: Trade paperback 192 pages, received for review

Series: Book 1 of a trilogy

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Buy the book: Amazon

More Reviews: Goodreads

I haven’t read too much Manga, or even read Ender’s Game, but this space adventure sounded like something new and entertaining to try. Laddertop is a collaborative book by Orson Scott Card and his daughter Emily Janice Card, and they conceived of the kids-in-space idea during San Diego Comic-Con one year.  It’s quick, entertaining and different, and made me interested to read more science fiction books like this, and Ender’s Game.

The story took me a little while to get into at first as I was trying to get my bearings with the artistic style. There are a lot of details to notice in the artwork and you have to pay close attention to get the most out of the story. The story is about two eleven year old middle school girls, Robbi and Azure, who are interested in attending the exclusive Laddertop Academy, a school located in space.

Azure and Robbi are best friends and total opposites. Azure has an over the top personality and is excited about every aspect of Laddertop Academy, while Robbi can take it or leave it, though she does seem to be well suited for it. The story moves at a breakneck pace while the situation is being established and all the characters are introduced. I suspect we will learn more in depth info about the characters in future books. Azure really cracked me up with her bold personality.

The background on Laddertop Academy is that aliens known as Givers came to Earth and created four giant towers that are the ladders leading to space stations that bring power to Earth. They aliens took off and now children are charged with the task of tower maintenance and it has become a very desirable job. There are all kinds of tests that the kids must pass in order to go into space, and this process is shrouded in mystery.

The space training includes many details you may be wondering about space travel, including transport and the cool space chairs you ride in, and even bathroom logistics. I did get a little dizzy reading about the weightlessness portion of the journey.

I read Laddertop in one sitting and thought it did a pretty good job of setting up the series. I’m interested in learning more about the candidate selection process and the Scan test symbols, and about the alien Givers in future installments. This should be a fun series for middle grade readers.

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Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Book: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol,  First Second books, June 7, 2011

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Graphic Novel

Format/pages: Hardcover 221 pages, also available in paperback

Format read/Source: Library, read August 7 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Buy the book: Amazon | Indie Bound | Barnes & Noble

More info: Goodreads | LibraryThing | Author’s blog | Read a 17 page excerpt

Publisher’s summary:

Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part . . .Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century. Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs. Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.


I became aware of Anya’s Ghost at Comic-Con when I saw the author speak on the “Diversity in YA” panel. This is her first book, although recently she was a storyboard artist on the movie Coraline. And, Neil Gaiman has described this book as “A Masterpiece!” Although I haven’t read many graphic novels, I knew I needed to check this one out, so I put it on hold at the library. I devoured the book in one sitting and was charmed by the drawings and the imaginative and creepy story. This YA graphic novel is a fast moving  page turner and I think has crossover appeal to fans of both YA and graphic novels. 

The illustrations are appealingly drawn in shades of black, white and purple and done in a clean and easy to follow way. Anya is someone anyone who has ever had trouble fitting in can relate to. She has always felt like an outsider and has worked hard to hide her Russian heritage to avoid standing out at her snooty private school. She rejects her mother’s traditional fatty foods and puts pressure on herself to diet to fit the skinny ideal mold. She tries to hide her accent and to not been seen as “fobby” (fresh off the boat) like her family friend Dima. She is not a great student, she smokes and cuts class with her sometimes friend Siobhan, and crushes on the unattainable popular athlete Sean. One day when she’s feeling down in the dumps,  Anya falls down a hole and meets a ghost named Emily. Once the ghostly Emily enters the picture, life changes in unexpected directions for Anya.

The fresh story and twists and turns held my interest all the way to the end. The themes are relatable, including feeling bored and out of place in high school; pressure to fit a certain body image, and identity and self worth. The humor and surprises found in the book are also a treat.  Recommended for other graphic novel newbie’s, and the paranormal side of the story would also make it a great read around Halloween time. I was impressed with the book stylistically and also the great message. I would definitely read more graphic novels like this one and will keep this author on my radar.

Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel Review & Giveaway

Book: Vampire Academy: A Graphic Novel  based on Richelle Mead’s series, adapted by Leigh Dragoon, Illustrated by Emma Vieceli, Razorbill books, August 23, 2011

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Graphic Novel

Format/pages: Paperback 144 pages

Format read/Source: Received at SDCC, read July 27 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Publisher’s summary:
After two years on the run, best friends Rose and Lissa are caught and returned to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a private high school for vampires and half-bloods. It’s filled with intrigue, danger – and even romance. Enter their dark, fascinating world through a new series of 144-page full-color graphic novels. The entire first Vampire Academy novel has been adapted for book one by Leigh Dragoon and overseen by Richelle Mead, while the beautiful art of acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli brings the story to life.


Vampire Academy is the latest young adult series to get the graphic novel treatment, as we have seen recently with the Twilight series. As Vampire Academy is a favorite series of mine, I have a picture in my head of what the characters look like and I wondered how the graphic novel would compare. The writing in Vampire Academy is so descriptive and vivid it would seem to lend itself well to this format. This graphic novel is a fast paced and quick read, and surprisingly manages to include the entire story of the first book in its slim volume. Recommended for fans of the series and for those who want a quick visual look at what the series is all about.

I have not read too many graphic novels, but I found the artwork to be striking, and the emotions of the characters came through the pages. It is a treat to revisit a familiar story in this visual format and see scenes from the book come alive in the pages. The characters that most lined up with my expectations are Rose, Christian and Mason. Rose looks physically as I would expect and her tough and feisty yet vulnerable demeanor shines through. Dimitri looks a bit different than I would expect. He is more bulked up than I imagined, but at least he’s wearing his familiar brown duster and reading western novels. Even though the characters did not always line up with my expectations, I enjoyed looking at the scenes in this visual format. It gave me the opportunity to view the book again with fresh eyes.

The adaptation is impressive considering most of the major plot points are included from the original 332 page book. The book moves very swiftly through the story so every scene is important. Due to the book’s length and pacing some of the plot details are not fleshed out, so you may get more out of it if you have read the book first. The graphic novel does do a good job with getting the main points across and with the character traits.

The graphic novel is recommended for young adults due to language and sexual situations, as in the original book. The colorful graphic novel will make a great addition to your Vampire Academy library and give you a new way to look at the story. Graphic novel fans should enjoy reading this to get a taste of the Vampire Academy world before diving into the books.

This book will be released on August 23, the same day as Bloodlines.

The Giveaway has ended and the winner has been notified. Thanks to all who entered!

For more information:

Vampire Academy graphic novel exclusive preview from Scribd |USA Today VA Behind the scenes article | Goodreads | Amazon


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