Genre: Horror / Supernatural / Humor
Year Published: 2011
Year Read: 2012
Publisher: First Second Comics
After reading so many graphic novels that dealt with superheroes and electrifying bloody action scenes, I finally came across a graphic novel that is aimed at young adults, but actually deals with the more mundane aspects of our lives (or should I say, the more spooky and supernatural aspects of our lives). “Anya’s Ghost” is a young adult graphic novel by Russian born author Vera Brosgol and is also Vera Brosgol’s debut book and it has everything that you would enjoy from any young adult novel detailing a teenager’s angst of going through high school (boys, popularity and GHOSTS!)
What is the story?
Anya Borzakovskaya is not like the other kids at her new private school as she comes from a Russian family and is known as an outsider at her new school. Anya is also embarrassed by her family and tries so desperately to fit in her new school. One day however, Anya accidentally falls down a well and there, she meets a young ghost girl named Emily Reilly who had died centuries ago. At first, Anya and Emily become fast friends, but then Anya will soon realize that having a ghost for a friend is not all sunshine and roses as it seems!
What I loved about this comic:
The story: Wow! This was one unique and spooky story that really made me have a greater appreciation for horror stories (although I already had a huge obsession with those types of stories!) Vera Brosgol has done an excellent job at writing this story as the characters’ dialogues are full of snarky comments which made each character so relatable to the readers. I especially loved the ever sarcastic main character Anya as she is always making comments about how miserable her life is and how she is so embarrassed by her Russian family. Probably my favorite scene in this graphic novel was when Anya has to do the dreaded “Bleep Test” which is where you have to run across the gym and make it to the edge of the gym while a beep sound goes off. This scene strongly related to me because I remembered I had to do the dreaded “Bleep Test” when I was in middle school and it was not fun at all! But what I really loved about Vera Brosgol’s writing is the mystery and the horror elements in this story. I loved the fact that instead of having your everyday story about a teenage boy or girl trying to make it through high school; you have a ghost story that strongly wraps with Anya’s struggles in fitting in school while Anya herself is trying to solve the mystery of the ghost girl Emily Reilly and her “mysterious” murder many years ago. I loved the idea that Anya actually has a ghost for a friend and it was interesting seeing Anya interact with the ghost girl without being scared. I also loved the way that Vera Brosgol provided so much mystery surrounding the ghost girl as you have to wonder to yourself about why she is with Anya in the first place and what her purpose is for being with Anya?
The artwork: Vera Brosgol’s artwork is truly creative to look at as the coloring of the artwork is mainly in black and white, which truly gives the appropriate spooky feel to the story. The only problem I have with the artwork is that it looks too cartoony for this type of story, which is a horror story and usually when I think about horror stories, I think about realistic imagery. However, I do think that the cartoony artwork really worked well with some of the story’s humor, so it was a good deal for me. I also loved the images of Anya herself as she has long black hair, a chubby figure and freckles on her face that really makes her stand out from the other characters in this graphic novel.
What made me feel uncomfortable about this book:
A little warning: there is some language in this graphic novel, although the language is not really strong and it only appears a few times in this novel, so this graphic novel should be appropriate enough for the young adult audience. Also, the theme about a possible murder in this story might be a bit frightening for readers who do not like reading about death.
Concerning the ending of this story, I was a bit annoyed at how the book ended since I wanted to see more from the characters in Anya’s world. I will not tell you what happened at the end, but let us just say that the book sort of ended on an abrupt note and you are wondering if there will be another book detailing Anya’s adventures.
Overall, “Anya’s Ghost” is a fantastic book about dealing with peer pressure and the importance of being yourself no matter how different you are from other people. I would strongly recommend this book to any fan of young adult graphic novels and fans who love a good ghost story!