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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.

Review:

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.

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