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"Recent" Graphic Novel Round-Up

And when I say recent, I mean that I've read them this year.

I haven't been reading graphic novels for very long, so I don't feel as qualified to discuss their merits (as opposed to twelve plus years of reading YA), but I've read some really wonderful ones recently, and I wanted to share...

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting picks up where Sleeping Beauty leaves off. Sleeping Beauty has married her prince and left the castle, but what about all the servants who also slept 100 years? They turn the castle into a sort of refuge for those in need (such as a pregnant woman fleeing from her husband, and a bearded nun). The illustrations are beautiful and intricate and create a perfect fairy tale atmosphere that completely drew me into the story.

One caveat: While this may look like a complete novel, it is actually a collection of serialized comics bound in one volume, and it is really only the beginning of the story (and I can't seem to find any information about future volumes... but I hope they're coming)

American Born Chinese by Gene Yang

The first graphic novel to win a Printz Award, American Born Chinese presents an interesting look at the life of a Chinese-American boy as he grows up. Yang does a wonderful job portraying the prejudices that Jin Wang faces in school.

I'll admit that I was a bit confused by the other plot lines (one about an American boy being embarrassed by his Chinese cousin, and the other, a fable about a monkey), but Yang brings them all together at the end. (My reading was also a little biased since I read this after it won the Printz, and so I kept comparing it to the Printz honor books)

Emma, a series by Kaoru Mori

I've been working at the same library for almost 2 years now, and in that time I've watched the Manga section grow from half of a shelf, to a whole shelf, to a shelf plus a full cart. And I kept meaning to actually read some of them, to see what it was all about. So, when I saw a new manga series about Victorian England, it seemed like the perfect place to start.
Emma tells the story of a young British maid and the nobleman she is in love with. Mori (the author/illustrator) is a self-proclaimed anglophile, and her gorgeously detailed illustrations are proof that she has done her research.
Interestingly, according to the Wikipedia entry for the series, it has a cult following in Japan, and there is even an Emma-themed cafe in Shibuya, Japan.

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

After a terrorist attack in Metro-City, Jane's parents decide to move to the suburbs. Jane, struggling to find her place at a new school in a new town, sits down at the lunch table with a group of misfits, only to find out that they are all named Jane. She, along with her new friends, begins to create subversive art in public places.

I loved it. The story is wonderfully layered. Rugg's illustrations perfectly depict the high school world that Castellucci has created. This is the first graphic novel published by Minx (a new imprint that publishes graphic novels for teen girls), and it is a great start to this new line.

And now, a question for all of you readers, any graphic novels that I absolutely must read?


Abby said...

Okay, I have a bunch to recommend...

Just read the first Fashion High graphic novel, Breaking Up by Aimee Friedman. Loved it. Very chick-lit, but with a likeable and flawed main character. I think there are going to be more in this series (I hope so!).

Blankets by Craig Thompson is one of my favorites. It's a great story about first loves and growing up.

If you haven't read Pedro and Me by Judd Winick, I highly recommend it (though beware, it's very sad!). It's done by one of the Real World San Francisco cast members about one of his housemates who was HIV positive and a huge AIDS activist.

Also Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi. These are graphic novel memoirs of her childhood in Iran after the revolution and then her teen years in Europe.

And of course if you haven't read Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman, I recommend them. Very popular with high schoolers, these books are about the author's father's experiences during WWII.

Happy graphic novel reading!! :D

Sara said...

Thanks for the suggestions!!!

I have read Blankets and Persepolis, and loved both of them, and I'll definitely put some of your other recommendations on hold!

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