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Graphic Novel Twofer: Anya’s Ghost & Daisy Kutter: The Last Train

November 11, 2011

136. Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (2011)

Length: 224 pages
Genre: Ghost Story

Started / Finished: 24 October 2011

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Darla’s fault.

Summary: Anya’s unhappy with her body, her immigrant family, and her complete lack of a social life. And to top things off, on her way home from school, she falls down an abandoned well. She’s not alone down there, either; the well is haunted by Emily, the ghost of a young woman who was murdered a hundred years before. When Anya is rescued, however, Emily tags along, determined to be helpful to the first friend she’s had in a century. But is Emily’s version of help something that Anya really wants?

Review: I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It reminds me a lot of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, both in the style of artwork and the general coming-of-age self-acceptance message. Anya’s very sympathetic and relatable, more so because she feels like a real teen: not always making the best decisions, occasionally unreasonably surly, but with a good heart underneath it all. Brosgol’s also very good at tone; this book manages to be creepy and sweet and tense and funny, all in turns, and it’s all done very subtly through the artwork as well as the story. For instance, on my first pass through, I didn’t notice how subtly Emily was changing in appearance until she was completely different; flipping back, I could see the changes that I’d missed at the time. Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot on all fronts, and will be interested to see what Brosgol does in the future. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I think fans of Smile will really like Anya’s Ghost (and vice-versa), as will anyone who likes ghost stories, or who’s looking for one-shot graphic novels that you don’t necessarily have to be a sci-fi/fantasy/superhero fan to enjoy.

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138. Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi (2006)

Length: 192 pages
Genre: Western with a splash of Steampunk

Started / Finished: 28 October 2011

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I was browsing for graphic novels prior to the readathon and recognized Kibuishi’s name from the Flight anthologies.

Summary: Daisy Kutter has given up the outlaw life and gone straight – although not as straight as her Tom, her ex-flame and current sheriff. She was the best, but she swears she’s gone straight, until she gets an job offer that she can’t refuse. But this is it: one last train robbery, and then she’s done. However, unsurprisingly, not everything is as it seems, and the heist doesn’t quite go according to plan…

Review: I pulled this one off the library shelf on the sole basis of recognizing Kibuishi’s name from the Flight anthologies. And: what a find! It’s not a straight-up western, but a blend of western and steampunk (there are robots), but the setting (while cool) is not the star. That honor belongs to Daisy herself, and she’s a fantastic character: tough but not hard, confident but not swaggering, snarky and capable and awesome. The story’s a pretty standard heist-western (well, except for the girl train robber and the robots and all), but Kibuishi’s style makes the most of the action, and there are little infused touches of emotion throughout. I’d happily read more of Daisy’s adventures, but seeing as this book came out in 2006 with no hint since of a sequel, that may be wishful thinking. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: The sensibility and humor of this story and the blend of sci-fi and western makes fans of Firefly the obvious recommended audience (hooray, Browncoats!), but I think Daisy’s got the chops to win over most readers.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2011 1:06 pm

    I really want to read Anya’s Ghost!

    • November 15, 2011 9:20 am

      Kathy – It’s really good! A little predictable, but a solid story and I really like the artwork style.

  2. November 11, 2011 1:50 pm

    I really enjoyed Anya’s Ghost!

  3. November 11, 2011 7:17 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read Anya’s Ghost, and even more so now. I don’t think it’s something I’ve seen in graphic novels before where an artist changes a character’s look subtly over the course of the book, all the small changes adding up to something dramatic. Sounds really cool though.

    • November 15, 2011 9:21 am

      Jenny – It’s a neat effect, one of those things that fits the story and would make it impossible to tell in print in the same way.

  4. November 12, 2011 6:43 pm

    I’ve seen Anya’s Ghost mentioned around the blogosphere a few times, but haven’t felt all that compelled to read it until now! Looks like our library system only has one copy, so I’ll have to wait until it’s returned. None of my libraries has Daisy Kutter, however, which is very disappointing. I’ll have to see what I can do about that :) Great reviews – thanks!

    • November 15, 2011 9:22 am

      Emily – I think Daisy Kutter might be out of print, which is sad if true, but I hope you can track down a copy somehow… I really enjoyed it!


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