Sunday, September 11, 2011

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

The Book Talk:

The Review:

First of all, I apologize for the long break between my last post and this one!  I went on multiple vacations in August and basically haven't had a free day since the last time I blogged.  Hopefully from now on I'll be back to my usual once-a-week posting schedule, and hopefully all of your Augusts were as awesome as mine.  Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

So, Anya's Ghost.  I've been awaiting this one for awhile actually -- it's been out for a long time, but my library system JUST got it in, and I read it as soon as my hold showed up.  I had read good things about it, and this is JUST my type of graphic novel (I.  Love.  Ghost stories.).  In many ways, this is a very classic ghost story.  Girl falls down well (The Ring), meets ghost.  Ghost and girl become friends (Caspar?).  Ghost is more sinister than previously thought, and gets scaaary.

For me, though, what makes a scary story good is when it has more substance than just being scary.  I think Vera Brosgol did this very well.  Before the ghost even shows up, she sets up her main character to have some problems.  Anya won't accept her Russian heritage and isn't very respectful to her family, she doesn't think very highly of herself, and of course she likes the unattainable guy who is supposed to be kind of a douchebag.  What Vera does a great job of is tying Anya's personal problems into the ghost story.  In fact, at its core, this isn't really a ghost story at all.  It's a story about a teenager coming to terms with who she is, and realizing that maybe her real self isn't so bad after all.

But the spooky parts are really well done.  A lot of this is a credit to the art -- the images of Emily the ghost slowly becoming unhinged are SPOT ON.  A girl who at first seems innocent and innocuous very gradually and slowly becomes more and more creepy and menacing, and Brosgol definitely takes advantage of the medium she chose to tell her story in.

Really the only complaint I have with this book is that I felt like the whole thing was a little rushed.  I wanted it to go on longer, I wanted Anya to go just a little deeper into her own psyche, and I wanted the scary parts to be more well paced.  This is a short book (you could probably read it in one sitting in an hour or so), and I really wanted it to take me longer to read!  I will definitely recommend this to kids who come in and tell me they loved Raina Telgemeier's Smile (after making sure they're OK with a little bit of scary added in, of course), and Neil Gaiman's Coraline.  Probably best for middle school and up, just because it is about a high schooler and there's some smoking and partying and general teenage debauchery.  I hope Vera Brosgol writes another graphic novel soon!

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