Category Archives: Graphic Novel

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy

Finished Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo. This is part of my “Read My Bought Books” personal challenge.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Little Women with a twist: four sisters from a blended family experience the challenges and triumphs of life in NYC in this beautiful full-color graphic novel perfect for fans of Roller Girl and Smile.

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are having a really tough year: with their father serving in the military overseas, they must work overtime to make ends meet…and each girl is struggling in her own way. Whether it’s school woes, health issues, boy troubles, or simply feeling lost, the March sisters all need the same thing: support from each other. Only by coming together–and sharing lots of laughs and tears–will these four young women find the courage to discover who they truly are as individuals…and as a family.

Meg is the eldest March, and she has a taste for the finer things in life. She dreams of marrying rich, enjoying fabulous clothes and parties, and leaving her five-floor walk-up apartment behind.

Jo pushes her siblings to be true to themselves, yet feels like no one will accept her for who she truly is. Her passion for writing gives her an outlet to feel worthy in the eyes of her friends and family.

Beth is the shy sister with a voice begging to be heard. But with a guitar in hand, she finds a courage that inspires her siblings to seize the day and not take life for granted.

Amy may be the baby of the family, but she has the biggest personality. Though she loves to fight with her sisters, her tough exterior protects a vulnerable heart that worries about her family’s future.”

This is an updated version of Little Women and faithful to the original but there are several changes (some of them major). That said, I absolutely love every single one.  I can see how it would be polarizing, but I’m absolutely in favor of everything that’s different.

Like the new movie (the Greta Gerwig one), it focuses on all the sisters and makes Amy look much better than she does in the original book. But just like how I loved Amy more in that movie, I love Meg more in this book. Jo is just as amazing as she usually is and, best of all, Beth is a real person and not a literal saint.

So basically yes, I love everything about this version. Highly recommended.

Creepshow

Finished Creepshow by Stephen King.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Stories in comic strip form tell of a murdered man returning from the grave, a bizarre meteor, a monster that devours people, a husband’s terrible revenge, and a plague of cockroaches. Graphic adaptation art by Bernie Wrightson.”

This was part of Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge. I chose it for the “Book You Would Normally Consider a Guilty Pleasure” category because I’m pretty sure you can’t get much more of a guilty pleasure than a comic book. (NOTE: I don’t actually agree with the concept of guilty pleasures, especially these days. There’s so much that’s awful, we’re all certainly allowed to enjoy what we can.)

So I never really read comic books as a kid, and I’m also not very familiar with graphic novels now. (I’ve read several and enjoyed most of what I’ve read, but this is not a genre that I’d be considered an expert in, so I can’t talk about whether this is a good comic or not. BUT it’s definitely a fun and quick read.

If you watched and loved Tales from the Crypt as a kid (or saw the Creepshow movie, which Stephen King wrote—this is based on his screenplay, but doesn’t have the bookend segments with the little boy who loves horror comics—and George Romero directed), you will enjoy this. It’s full of silly, gross stories and really, REALLY bad puns. I had an absolute blast.

I’m not sure that I’ll end up reading more comics (I have so much to read and not enough time at all) but I’m not sorry I spent time with this one.

Cub

Finished Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A laugh-out-loud funny and empowering graphic memoir about growing up and finding your voice.

Twelve-year-old Cindy has just dipped a toe into seventh-grade drama—with its complicated friendships, bullies, and cute boys—when she earns an internship as a cub reporter at a local newspaper in the early 1970s. A (rare) young female reporter takes Cindy under her wing, and Cindy soon learns not only how to write a lede, but also how to respectfully question authority, how to assert herself in a world run by men, and—as the Watergate scandal unfolds—how brave reporting and writing can topple a corrupt world leader. Searching for her own scoops, Cindy doesn’t always get it right, on paper or in real life. But whether she’s writing features about ghost hunters, falling off her bicycle and into her first crush, or navigating shifting friendships, Cindy grows wiser and more confident through every awkward and hilarious mistake.”

I absolutely love this book. It’s so fun and so good and an absolute love letter to journalism. I love that Cindy was a “cub reporter” in the 1970s, which was probably one of the best times to be involved with newspapers. She shadowed a reporter and learned how to be a better writer and reporter. Parts of the stories she submitted are there and it’s easy to see how her writing improved as she learned the best way to tell stories (a good lede is everything).

Parts of this are dated, of course, but a lot of it is timeless. I think we all understand the importance of a free press now, and the way that journalists but especially newspaper reporters are keeping us all informed about our towns, states and beyond.

It’s perfect for middlegrade readers, especially anyone who’s expressed an interest in writing, journalism or photography. Highly recommended.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Finished The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This is the graphic novel, which was adapted and illustrated (I’m not sure of the best terminology here) by Renee Nault.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everything Handmaids wear is red: the colour of blood, which defines us.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. She serves in the household of the Commander and his wife, and under the new social order she has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if they are fertile. But Offred remembers the years before Gilead, when she was an independent woman who had a job, a family, and a name of her own. Now, her memories and her will to survive are acts of rebellion.

Provocative, startling, prophetic, The Handmaid’s Tale has long been a global phenomenon. With this stunning graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s modern classic, beautifully realized by artist Renee Nault, the terrifying reality of Gilead has been brought to vivid life like never before.”

I read this for book club probably eight or nine years ago, but I chose to re-read this as a graphic novel. This format worked really well for the novel, and it was incredibly chilling.

When I read this the first time, it was during President Obama’s first term, and it felt like science fiction and completely implausible. Reading it now, it was an entirely different experience. Seeing the way the world became Gilead felt really plausible.

(I’m going to re-read the actual book before reading The Testaments next month, I think. And now I need to watch the show.)

I hope when I re-read it in another eight or nine years, we’re in a better place.

Highly recommended.

Pumpkinheads

Finished Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?”

I absolutely adored this graphic novel! I feel like that format is very hit or miss for me but it really worked for this one, and it also made me very happy that fall is coming up. (If you’re a fan of the season, you’ll also love this.) It’s very evocative of the season and everything associated with it.

I haven’t been to a pumpkin patch (I don’t think ever, but definitely not as a teenager or adult; if I went at all, I must’ve been a toddler at best) but this makes me want to change that. (Especially around Halloween and especially if there’s any sort of maze involved.)

I also love the characters (especially Deja and her multiple quests). I’m more like Josiah (I pine from afar) so I appreciate Deja because she makes things happen.

This is just a really fun story and I hope for more collaborations between Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks. Highly recommended.

White Bird

Finished White Bird by R.J. Palacio. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“In Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian’s grandmother, Grandmère. Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with Grandmère’s story as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Her experience demonstrates the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives.”

You don’t have to have read Auggie & Me (or even Wonder) to appreciate this story. As the synopsis says, it’s set in World War II (with bookends in the present, as Grandmere tells Julian about her childhood in the 1940s). I have it marked on my blog as middlegrade and YA; children who have read Wonder will probably want to read this, too; I think it’s age appropriate for them but be aware that people die in this.

Also, unlike her other books, this is a graphic novel. That format works amazingly well with this story, and the drawings are beautiful. The story is as heartbreaking as you would expect a story about Jewish people in World War II to be. And yet, as in Wonder, there is a lot of kindness, too. It’s a fantastic story and I hope we don’t have to wait this long for another book from R.J. Palacio.

Highly recommended.

They Called Us Enemy

Finished They Called Us Enemy by George Takei.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei’s childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon — and America itself — in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.

George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

What is American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.”

Like Room, the atrocities in here are narrated by a child. George Takei didn’t realize the full extent of what was happening when he, his parents and his two younger siblings were sent to Japanese internment camps (read: imprisoned) but that doesn’t make it any easier for the reader.

This book absolutely broke my heart. We’re never getting better as a country, are we? We’re still afraid of people who we deem as “other” and we just take turns with who that “other” is considered to be.

(George Takei is a lot more hopeful about this than I am; he also shares that the government apologized—decades later, Ronald Reagan officially apologized and George HW Bush issued reparations to the American citizens who were wrongly imprisoned due to their ancestry.)

This is not an easy book but it’s a very necessary one. Highly recommended.

Good Talk

Finished Good Talk by Mira Jacob.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“A bold, wry, and intimate graphic memoir about American identity, interracial families, and the realities that divide us, from the acclaimed author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing.

“By turns hilarious and heart-rending, it’s exactly the book America needs at this moment.”—Celeste Ng

“Who taught Michael Jackson to dance?”
“Is that how people really walk on the moon?”
“Is it bad to be brown?”
“Are white people afraid of brown people?”

Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.

“How brown is too brown?”
“Can Indians be racist?”
“What does real love between really different people look like?”

Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.”

I loved this book so much! I was just discussing graphic novels with a friend and I said that I couldn’t think of one that wouldn’t have been just as good or better as a regular novel instead. I mention that because I think this was better as a graphic memoir. It’s incredibly personal but also universal; these are topics we all hopefully grapple with.

There are a lot of things that are hard to discuss and they’re also the things we also most need to talk about.

I know Mira Jacob has written a novel and I need to find and read it. I was really impressed with this and hope to read everything she ever does from now on.

Highly recommended.

Operatic

Finished Operatic by Kyo Maclear. (The illustrations are by Byron Eggenschwiler.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

Somewhere in the universe, there is the perfect tune for you.

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, from hip-hop to metal to disco, but it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks. On top of everything, she has been talked into participating in an end-of-year performance with her best friends.

Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?

This evocatively illustrated graphic novel brilliantly captures the high drama of middle school by focusing on the desire of its finely drawn characters to sing and be heard.”

This is one of my favorite graphic novels. It centers around a middle school girl who’s learning more about music. She develops this huge fondness for Maria Callas and it makes her brave.

I love the idea of little kids (and I’m sorry, middle schoolers count as little!) learning about opera. It makes me feel really happy, like maybe they’re not just listening to uptempo nonsense I haven’t even heard of. (This is probably the grumpiest thing I’ve ever typed.)

This also discusses Maria Callas a little, and basically all I knew was “legendary diva” so that was good, too.

This is all about music and I feel like I always think about how books and movies impact me but I don’t really think about that in terms of music. Part of that is because my personal pop culture choices skew heavily toward books and movies, then TV and my music choices tend to be the same artists I’ve loved for years and there are so many songs that can instantly change my mood (for better or worse) and I love that this book talks about that. Music is so powerful and this honors that.

If you aren’t into graphic novels, this may be a fun way to start. Recommended.

To Kill a Mockingbird (graphic novel)

Finished To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and adapted and illustrated by Fred Fordham. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“A beautifully crafted graphic novel adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved, Pulitzer prize–winning American classic.

“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

A haunting portrait of race and class, innocence and injustice, hypocrisy and heroism, tradition and transformation in the Deep South of the 1930s, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird remains as important today as it was upon its initial publication in 1960, during the turbulent years of the Civil Rights movement.

Now, this most beloved and acclaimed novel is reborn for a new age as a gorgeous graphic novel. Scout, Gem, Boo Radley, Atticus Finch, and the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, are all captured in vivid and moving illustrations by artist Fred Fordham.

Enduring in vision, Harper Lee’s timeless novel illuminates the complexities of human nature and the depths of the human heart with humor, unwavering honesty, and a tender, nostalgic beauty. Lifetime admirers and new readers alike will be touched by this special visual edition that joins the ranks of the graphic novel adaptations of A Wrinkle in Time and The Alchemist.”

I’m just going to discuss the adaptation as a graphic novel, because hopefully by now, you’ve all read it. (If not, please read it. It’s amazing.)

I’m not really a huge fan of graphic novels, although I’ve tried to be. There are great ones, and there are a bunch that I’ve loved, but by and large, I prefer books with prose and without pictures. I was also incredibly skeptical about the need to release arguably the greatest American novel as a graphic novel. It doesn’t need a gimmick to get people to read it; it’s phenomenal by itself.

I said that to say this: This adaptation is fantastic. The illustrations are sharp and everyone looks as they’re described in the novel. (Which is to say that no, Atticus doesn’t really look like Gregory Peck.)

This is a fantastic version and if you know someone who hasn’t read TKAM, this could be a good gateway. I think a lot of people may be uneasy about reading something that seems like homework if that’s all they know about it. Graphic novels are a lot less intimidating. (I don’t mean that to sound snobby and yes, I know there are a lot of excellent graphic novels.)

Highly recommended in any form.