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YA Book Reviews by Amy

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YA Book Reviews by Amy: Great Graphic Novels  

Jessica Abel, a cartoonist and comics educator, presents graphic novels as a long work in an artistic or comics medium. While graphic novels premiered almost 200 years ago, they have been popular throughout the past several decades and have been gaining more popularity in the Young Adult genre recently.  

I particularly like graphic novels for the art and the storyline. The artistic style of the artist must grab my attention and is pleasing to my eyes. I also tend to enjoy reading the same genres in my novels as my graphic novels, which include: contemporary, historical nonfiction, fairy tale inspired works, and science fiction. Usually the plots move quickly, and these can easily be finished in one sitting even through it takes infinitely longer to create. I love reading a graphic novel quickly to follow the flow of my reading pace, but then I like reading it a second time to enjoy the story slower and appreciate each panel of art.  

In each one of these graphic novels I enjoyed the art and the storyline; some are serious commentaries and others are just fun light stories.  

While there are also audiobook versions of some of these titles, I do suggest reading the physical book through curbside pick up at the library or reading the eBook because the art in all these stories is great.  

 

Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka 

A memoir following the author/artist’s childhood to his young adult years, Jarrett understands that his family is different. Raised by his grandparents because of his mother’s drug problem and lack of father presence in his life, he must come to terms with his family’s dynamics. Jarrett learns through the years the love grandparents can give, what friendship looks like, and parents that try to be there, but they are not all knowing and powerful. Jarrett also finds passion and expression through art.  

This is the true story of author Jarrett J. Krosoczka and it is both at times heartwarming and rage inducing, both beautiful and sad. I really like the personal touches Krosoczka added to this story like the pictures of his grandparents or images of his actual art when he was younger. I originally read this for the YSU English Festival and I am glad I read it. Just be aware when reading that there are some tough topics about drug abuse, addiction, language, and trauma.  

Available on Overdrive and as an eAudiobook on Hoopla 

 

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks 

It is the last day of work for Josiah and Deja and they will not be returning next year since they will both be in college. They work in an autumn themed pumpkin patch. Josiah is a starred employee that loves his job, while Deja wants to enjoy their last day together. Deja is on a quest of eating the best food and helping Josiah find his crush for him to finally ask her out. Throughout the night they neglect their work and go on a journey together.  

Rainbow Rowell is a fantastic writer that is able to capture the magic of the teenage years. Faith Erin Hick’s art is charming and beautiful and matches the style of Rowell’s writing. This is just a sweet graphic novel about friendship. 

Available on Overdrive 

 

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell 

Frederica is in love with her girlfriend and popular-girl Laura Dean, but Laura Dean has not been a great or supportive girlfriend. But for some reason Freddy keeps taking Laura Dean back. After Freddy and her best friend, Doodle, go to a psychic that gives Freddy the advice to break up with her. Laura Dean is the one that keeps breaking up with Freddie but is also the one that keeps coming back. Freddy starts to lose her friends and lose herself to her relationship with Laura Dean. 

This graphic novel was very important to me because it made me consider examining some toxic situations. I really like the LGBTQ+ representation and the art is stunning! Some difficult topics appear in this story as well: abortion, cheating, inappropriate relationships and emotional abuse. 

Available on Overdrive 

 

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll  

Five scary and eerie tales about what could happen if someone enters the woods and may not come back.   

I love fairy tale retellings and this horror version of these tales is creepy and harkens to some of the original Grimm tales. Many of the tales are suspenseful, and the entire collection reminded me of the stories that are told late at night to scare others. The art is hauntingly chilling without it being graphic or gory. This graphic novel is recommended for readers that enjoy being a little creeped out and like folk and fairy tales.  

Available on Overdrive 

 

One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale 

Aliens have arrived, and they have attacked and eaten anything electronical causing many people to live pre-electrical age. Strata and her family live with a moving caravan group to collect different devices. Strata becomes separated, and she finds a beautiful mechanical horse that helps her escape from the aliens. Can Strata, some new friends, and a robot pony defeat the aliens? 

The art is so original and creative; Nathan Hale used very few colors to create a dark futuristic look that worked perfect with this science fiction tale. The graphic novel presents conversations about modern technology and the importance of friendship.  

Available on Hoopla 

 

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang 

Prince Sebastian must marry for his kingdom according to his parents, but Sebastian has more on his mind than finding a future wife. When an invitation to the ball spreads through Paris, Frances, a dressmaker, becomes busy with her business. Her work catches the eye of Sebastian and he would like to commission her to create stunning gowns for him. Sebastian has a secret, when he puts on a dress be becomes powerful Lady Crystallia, the most famous fashion icon. He must trust Frances with his secret and he must learn to love himself. 

This twist on a fairy tale was so cute and needed. The theme about being yourself and doing the things that make you happy, while it may be unconventional to some, was important. The relationship between Sebastian and Frances was without judgement and supportive. Plus, the art in this story is beautiful. 

Available on Overdrive 

 

March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell 

While this is the conclusion and third book in this graphic novel series. It’s my favorite of the three, but please check out all of them because it teaches Civil Rights history through the eyes of people that were involved, particularly John Lewis. In March: Book Three, 1963, the Civil Rights movement is in full force, but there is oppression: civilian terrorist attacks, the assassination of the president, and voting violence.  

This is truly a fantastic historical read that brings light to a topic not discussed. John Lewis’ account of those years combined with the art of Nate Powell really brings the Civil Rights Era to light for readers.  

Available on Overdrive