I go through a lot of times when I don’t feel like I have the attention span to really keep interest in reading an actual novel, and then there are times when I am recovering from a book hangover from an amazing book I’ve read and can’t seem to get into much else. That’s what I love about graphic novels – I am always in the mood to read them, and as soon as I read one, I want to read another, and another.
In the case of Anya’s Ghost, I’ve had it on my shelf for a few months now after trading with one of my lovely friends on Twitter. I had heard of it a while back, before I really got into graphic novels, but once I started reading a lot of them, I was only too happy to get my hands on a copy of this one. It took me a while to read it because I was kind of saving it for when I was in a reading slump, which I just fell into after reading Wonder Woman: Warbringer, so I knew this would help me get out of it.
So I started reading this book at night, and of course, I’m a huge chicken (although a huge lover of horror at the same time – go figure), so I was up half the night picturing creepy ghosts coming out of…well, pretty much anywhere (which got me thinking about the movie The Ring, and let’s not even go there). So anyway, a word to those who are easily spooked? Read this one during the daytime! While it’s not altogether terrifying, if you have a hard time getting to sleep after reading anything about ghosts, this is good advice!
That’s the thing about this fantastic book, though – once I started reading that very first page, I was already hooked and it actually made me sad to have to wait until morning to finish it. I read about 80 pages before bed and finished the rest the moment I woke up, and I was so eager to get back to it. It was a fun, fast paced read with a bit of a mystery and a main character that I felt like I could really relate to.
Anya is a Russian immigrant who is trying her hardest to get through high school. She worries a lot about her weight, her clothes, and trying to fit in and make friends, and although her friend Siobhan is someone to spend time with, they don’t always get along as well as Anya would hope. Of course, Anya’s mother doesn’t understand Anya, and her little brother drives her crazy, so often, she feels alone in the world.
During a particular argument with Siobhan, Anya finds herself walking away, and with the thought of the argument and other things going on in her life, Anya misses the large well in the woods and falls into it. Shocked, hurt, and scared, Anya does what she can to try to get attention and make sure she can survive in the well for as long as possible until help arrives. That’s when she sees the skeleton at the bottom of the well, and is greeted by a ghost – one that seems innocent and helpful at first.
When Anya gets out of the well, she accidentally takes a bone from the skeleton into her backpack, allowing the ghost to come out of the well and follow Anya home. There, the ghost spends time talking to Anya and trying to get to her to open up to boys, helps her with school assignments, and is generally just her friend.
However, as time passes, things start to change and become a little bit more sinister with the ghost from the well, and Anya is determined to find out the truth.
The artwork in Anya’s Ghost isn’t bright and vivid in color the way some illustrations in graphic novels are, but they still really pull you in. They are created with such character and detail that they are just exciting to look at, and when combined with the story, it makes for one great graphic novel.
Anya’s character is so tremendously well written that I loved her as soon as I picked up the book. She is awkward, one of the only two Russian kids in the school (the other is a boy who Anya deems nerdy and refuses to talk to because she thinks he will make her fall even lower on the social ladder), and she longs for a friend, for something different. She’s also struggling in school and at home with her mom and her little brother, and she also has a crush on one of the popular guys in school who is dating the beautiful popular girl. Seriously, Anya is such an easy character to relate to and I think that it will make a lot of readers feel at home with this book. The author did a fantastic job coming up with her character and writing her so well.
The ghost aspect of this book was well done, too. I knew there was going to be some kind of twist at the end of the book, but I didn’t have the slightest clue what it was going to be. I was really impressed with how well it was done and how it tied so perfectly into the story – it didn’t feel forced or out of place.
I truly loved this and will not hesitate to pick up other graphic novels by this very talented author/artist.