I accepted Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol on the basis of the Neil Gaiman blurb. Honestly, I didn’t realize this was a graphic novel, but HOLY CRAP I was so excited when I opened the package up and saw the pages upon pages of comics!
Anya is a Russian immigrant attending American private high school. She’s not excited about being an immigrant or proud of her heritage, she just wants to fit in and be normal. Basically blond and thin. However, Anya reminded me a bit of Daria, in that she was exceedingly negative and had one good friend, Siobhan might as well be Anya’s Jane Lane. In the span of one day, her life completely changes when she trips into a hole and ends up trapped in a well. In the well she makes friends with this ghost, thus the title Anya’s Ghost.
I read this book at 11 at night while waiting for my boyfriend to get home. Guys, I go to bed at elderly lady times, as in I rarely stay up past 10:30 p.m., unless there’s a readathon going on. Anya’s Ghost kept me riveted the entire time. Let me tell you, at 1 a.m. I am not ever in the mood to read a book and there are few things I would rather do more than sleep, that is how awesome Anya’s Ghost is.
The art in Anya’s Ghost is lovely. There are no jarring lines. Instead, the art is all nice and clean. The entire graphic novel is done in black and white. It’s very easy on the eyes. The font was not hard to read at all. I do notice in a lot of graphic novels, they do these little sideboxes and the font is so hard to read, like you have to hold it up close, or I do anyways. I thought the art was perfect for the sort of comic Anya’s Ghost is.
At it’s heart, I interpreted the main theme of Anya’s Ghost as identity. Anya must make a choice between tradition and assimilation. We see this in what she chooses to eat for breakfast, in her choice to go to church or not, in her choice of friends. She can choose to fit in, or help Dima who is another Russian, but Anya describes him as being FOBBY which means Fresh Off The Boat and I guess is a derogatory way of looking at immigrants. But I think in the larger context teenagers can relate to Anya’s internal conflict. I mean, how many teens make the chose every day to fit in or to go against the grain.
As a character, Anya really resonated with me. Now, my family is as WASP-ish as you can get, minus the whole rich thing. I felt she was so realistic with her faults but also her positives. She’s got poor body image, a crush on the wrong sort of person, desperately wants to fit in, but spends her time making negative comments about everything. Pretty much that was me during my adolescent years. Yet, when she gets into a fight with her best friend Siobhan, instead of being angry forever they resolve it. I liked that.
I’m deliberately leaving bits out about Emily because I think she is best discovered for yourself.
I think Vera Brogsol’s debut would be an excellent addition to anyone’s YA section. It would also be a good book for people interested in trying graphic novels for the first time. I highly recommend this book.
Disclosure: Received for review.