Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol, First Second, 2011, 224 pp, ISBN: 1596437138
Anya just wants to blend in. She's lost her Russian accent, lost all kinds of weight, and is scrupulously sure to stay away from Dimi - the other Russian in her class - just to make sure that none of his "fobby-ness" rubs off on her. But Anya is still pretty much a nobody at school.
That is until a ghost follows Anya home. Anya's ghost knows how to raise her grades and grab the attention of her crush. All of a sudden, Anya's life is looking good! But no favors come for free, and this ghost is asking for more than Anya is able to give...
Anya's Ghost is a Cybils Winner and a Round 1 Contender in SLJ's Battle of the Kids' Books (BoB). So it's got to be good, right?
Eh... I'm not so sure. Let's start with what I liked. The art throughout this graphic novel was outstanding. Honestly, I think Anya's Ghost has the best illustrations of any graphic novel I've read. The moody color palate perfectly matched the tone of the story, and Vera Brosgol did an amazing job of conveying emotion and personal transformation through each tiny square.
I thought the plot had a lot of promise. The ghost was initially completely loveable, and Anya's dismissiveness made me root for her even more. Then Brosgol did a great job of slowly, subtly showing the reader that the ghost isn't quite as innocent as she had made herself out to be. By that point, I had switched over to Team Anya and couldn't wait to see how she would react.
But that's point in the story where, unfortunately, Anya's Ghost started to lose me. A) It left me with a lot of unanswered questions. How did the ghost get so strong? And did Anya seriously think the ghost would kill her, even though it was only able to float through her? B) I felt like the tone changed super suddenly from moody and a little dark to just downright sinister and malicious. The shift felt too abrupt for me. And finally C) the sprinkles of profanity and constant cigarette smoking just rubbed me the wrong way. They didn't add a thing to the story, and really... is it even cool for kids to smoke anymore? I didn't care for that at all - even though there is some redemption in the end!
Anya's Ghost is up against Amelia Lost on March 13 and I feel pretty confidant that Amelia will be the one advancing to Round 2. Can't wait to see the judge's verdict!
Of course, this is only my 2 cents! Tons of people have clearly loved Anya's Ghost. Here are just a few second opinions:
- Devour Books
- The New York Times
If you're a big fan of graphic novels or ghost stories, you'll probably have a lot of fun with Anya's Ghost.