Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Who likes the paranormal? Graphic novels, anyone? I know I'm nodding my head enthusiastically for both of these, particularly the latter, but what about you? Yes? Then I have the review for you.

Spunky, sarcastic Anya, being a native Russian now living in the U.S., has found that acting "normal" is the way you survive in an average high school. She's done everything she can-- getting rid of her accent, finding things to wear that aren't from Goodwill, avoiding certain...people. Like Dima. Dima, a fellow classmate and Russian, is the small, skinny, bespectacled "nerd" (who commonly gets picked on because of this), and with him trying to follow you around, even if he does need someone else to relate to, doesn't make Anya's goal of being an average kid that easy. Not only that, but her only friend doesn't seem to know "being funny" from "making fun" too well. 

Well, that is, until Emily comes along.

Emily seems nice enough. She even helps Anya in school. They soon become good friends. There are a few teensy problems, though. Like how she can't touch anything on her own. Or that Emily can fly. And pass through walls. Like the fact that, well, Emily's been dead for the what, past century or so?

Okay, back up. If Anya hadn't accidentally fallen into the cemetery well on a detour on her way to school, this book wouldn't have any plot. She also wouldn't have found a skeleton waiting for her at the bottom. Guess what? As if she wasn't creeped out enough, it turns out that skeleton isn't as dead as she thinks.

But we know better. So when the dust settles, what she isn't expecting to find is her new best friend--and future worst enemy.

Although, they don't exactly hit it off at first. In fact, Anya wants nothing to do with her new ghostly host. Her main priority is to get out of the dark, creepy well and get home to resume her normal life, which does not include Emily. And, once she is finally lifted up and out and back home, that's exactly what she expects. 

She knows (Emily herself told her) that ghosts can't get away from their bones; they're kind of "bound" to them. And as far as she knows, Emily's skeleton is still resting in peace at the bottom of the well.

But when it turns out that she accidentally took some of Emily with her, Anya's life is about to get a lot more...well, interesting. At first, Emily uses her skills to help Anya in school with tests (the ultimate shrinkable friend), and to aid Anya in winning over her crush, Emily being a bit oblivious the fact that he already has a girlfriend. For once, things in Anya's life are looking up.

Unfortunately, Emily isn't all she seems. Soon, everything about her comes into the light--the life she lived, the motives she holds, the lies she's told and the grudges she's held surrounding her death. Anya knows she needs to stop Emily before she gets out of control, but is she already too late?

Okay, this is an amazing book. Not only do I like the story and the characters, good and bad, but it offers something else that you can't get out of a normal book that I absolutely adore: the artwork. Vera Brosgol's style is bold, simple, Scott-Pilgrim-ish, but still appealing and unique. It has a nice texture (I can't put it a much better way; yes, I know it sounds weird) and feel to it that's smooth, flowy, and fun to just look at. The artwork is more than half the reason I read these graphic novels/manga. Sure, the story can be great, but a style I really don't like will make the reading--let's just say not very fun. In the case that I do like the style, I hoard the book as long as I can (sorry, public library system) and study the drawings and try to imitate them. Good art can sometimes almost make up for a bad storyline. Fortunately, Anya's Ghost doesn't even need the backup.  :)

Read and enjoyed Friends With Boys? If so, you'll almost fool-proof love this like I did. If you didn't? Read it after this one. It's just as good. And they'll both take you on a wonderful high-school-supernatural ride.

Five stars

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