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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Anya's Ghost

Welcome to another guest reviewer, Becky Hawkins.  Becky dew her first minicomic in 2007, right before landing a job as a cruise ship musician. Since then, she has kept a travel-journal online,  self-published eight more minicomics, and contributed to The Zinester’s Guide to NYC. She especially loves drawing food, old buildings and quirky bodies. If she had a spouse or a cat, she would mention them here.  Becky is the creator of French Toast Comix (which we reviewed here).  You can follow her on twitter using @hawkins_becky.
On to the review..


Art and Words by Vera Brosgol
Publisher: First Second

What’s it About?
Anya is the ultimate misfit. She attends the third-worst private school in the state, her little brother won’t stay out of her room, and her immigrant mother acts like they’re still back in Russia. To make things worse, her mother keeps trying to set her up with Dima, her “fobby” Russian classmate. Everything changes one day when she cuts school, falls into an abandoned well, and awakens the ghost of Emily Reilly.


Emily died in 1918, when she was Anya’s age, and she’s more than willing to help Anya with her problems. She can help Anya cheat on tests, look up boys’ phone numbers, find the cool parties, and dress “like Beyonce.”


But Emily is not who she seems to be, and Anya’s conformity comes with a cost. The plot takes several unexpected turns before the end, but I won’t spoil the fun for you. This is a book that you buy for the teen in your life, and then read a couple of times before wrapping it!

What’s good about it?
Anya’s concerns are typical for a teenager (body image, fitting in, finding a date), but the characters in Anya’s Ghost are refreshingly unique. Vera Brosgol’s eye and ear for detail ground a supernatural, potentially-cliché story in a believable world. We know that Emily is a teenager from 1918 when she dresses Anya up for a party, then asks, “How young do people get married nowadays?”


Vera creates an endearingly flawed heroine, and does not let her off easily. The book has a fairly simple message: “Impressing a bunch of snooty teenagers is a pretty lame life goal to have.” But getting there is half the fun, and by the time Anya reaches that conclusion, we actually believe her.

What’s bad about it?
Search me. Parents might object to a comic that shows high school students smoking and drinking, but the book definitely doesn’t glamorize or encourage it. In fact, it shows the awkward situations and stinky clothes that can result.


What’s the art like?
The artwork is very cartoony and energetic. Vera Brosgol’s background is in animation, and she can carry the story for several pages with artwork alone. With a few clean lines, Vera creates a memorable ensemble cast and a believable world.

More information
ISBN: 1596435526
Price: £10.99
You can find more of Vera Brosgol’s work at http://verabee.com

Editor's note - the boyfriend and I have both read this on Becky's recommendation and we really enjoyed it.  It's a really well crafted story with great art.  Becky is spot on in her take of it!

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