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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Russian Girl, 10 Jun. 2011
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Paperback)
This is a great graphic novel for young teens -- especially girls -- with a well-paced story and plenty to say about social anxiety, body image, friendship, and ghostbusting. Anya is a 9th or 10th-grader at a lower-tier private school (not unlike the one I went to), who is embarrassed by her immigrant past. Her family came to the US from Russia when she was five, and she has worked very hard to lose any accent, eat American foods (while not becoming plump), dress properly, and generally fit in as an American teen. However, the signs of her angst are literally postered all over her bedroom: Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Neko Case, The Shins, Metric, etc. -- all perfectly good bands, but indicative of an underlying wistfulness. (Had she been of my generation, there surely would have been at least one Smiths and one Cure poster.)

One afternoon, she falls down a hole in the park and makes the acquaintance of a ghost from 1918 named Emily. She's been hovering over her skeleton for years, mourning the death of her fiancee in WWI, and herself at the hands of a murderer. One of Emily's bones gets into Anya's bag by accident, and when she'd rescued, Emily is able to hitch a ride to the surface. Before too long Anya and she become friends, with Anya spilling her insecurities to her new gal-pal ghost as Emily tries to help her succeed at school, fashion, and with the boy she has a crush on. Of course, as anyone who's watched a teen makeover comedy knows, there's always danger when the geeky girl tries to rebrand herself according to the conventional norms.

The final third of the book takes a rather menacing turn as Anya starts to realize that even the shiny popular kids have issues lurking just below the surface. This is all kind of John Hughes 101 type stuff (there's even a subplot involving a nerdy Russian kid whom Anya shuns but then has to turn to for help), but it's well done and the high contrast artwork brings it to life in a way that's neither too cartoony nor too realistic. Based on the brief author bio on the back, it sounds like many of the themes are autobiographical, as are many aspects of Anya's personality -- which is probably why it feels so dead on. Great stuff for girls in the 10-14 range or thereabouts, and still fairly entertaining for others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant debut into graphic novels!, 4 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Paperback)
Vera Brosgol captures an engaging story with realistic characters (even despite one of them being a ghost from 70 years ago!) in her brilliant graphic novel debut. It tells a modern story of a Russian girl trying to fit in with American culture in high school, get noticed by her crush, lose weight, get popular and of course avoid daily embarrassments to retain the remaining shreds of her dignity, but all that changes when she literally stumbles upon a ghost whose been waiting for a rescuer for 70 years. The ghost, Emily, has the ability to change Anya's life as well as be the friend she always wanted! However, when Anya gets what she wants, she starts to realise that appearance can be deceiving...

Anya's Ghost is a mature story that doesn't patronise or talk down to the reader, (like some teen books do!) and is entertaining for any age, but particularly teen girls, like Anya, who may identify by their current or past experiences. The artwork is carefully rendered in a simple, but very expressive way which relates you to Vera's lovely characters even more. It's an utter page turner from beginning to end, and I remember savoring the last pages, taking everything in slowly in my attempt to make the book last longer! I didn't want it to end and sincerely hope Brosgol has a sequel in the works!

I highly recommend this to graphic novel lovers and teenage girls/young women everywhere!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars School Days, Ghoul Days, 28 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Paperback)
While Neil Gaiman's "YA masterpiece" blurb initially struck me as a bit over the top this book has a lot to recommend it. Not least is the fashion in which it starts as a fairly predictable teen angst morality tale and then morphs into something a little darker and more absorbing.

Our heroine, Anya, starts out with all of the conventional teen challenges - body issues, Mom and sibling issues, fitting in at school, and so on. Treated very well is the fact that Anya is also a Russian-American immigrant with conflicting feelings about her position standing between the new and old worlds. Because Anya is smart and decent and fairly perceptive we have a good feeling about her even when she whinges or makes poor decisions. She never becomes so much a drama queen that she loses our sympathies, and even at the outset one senses her inner fiber. I expected a fairly predictable course to a happy or at least optimistic ending.

But then, Anya falls into an abandoned shaft and finds a body, or more precisely a skeleton, and the ghost of the young girl whose skeleton that was. The ghost girl is pretty and charming and full of innocent enthusiasm. She's wiser and more centered than Anya is and this begins to look like a light hearted fairy godmother sort of story, or maybe a variation on a "Lassie: episode with the ghost playing the role of the kindly guide and protector. But, wait a minute, if Gaiman thought this was a masterpiece there must be at least a creepy or unnerving third act. Well, maybe there is and maybe there isn't - that would be spoiling. Suffice to say that this isn't all cotton candy and butterflies.

This book is also appealing in that it seemed to me to represent an almost perfect marriage of text and drawing. The panels are crisp with sharp and expressive line drawings. The pencil work is thick, with simple one color washes, but a considerable amount of personality and drama comes through on every page. The ghost is especially well rendered, and is either very realistic or a bit abstract as the situation requires. Anya also comes across as very realistic, but there is always a bit of exaggeration or emphasis drawn into each character to emphasize, highlight or just complement the dialogue and the mood of the character. This is deceptively simple looking and yet remarkably accomplished drawing.

So, a nice coming of age tale and ghost story with a lot going on, all of it under control and well balanced. The overall effect is entertaining and rewarding. A nice find.

Please note that I found this book while browsing the local library's Kindle books, and downloaded it for free. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Russian girl and the ghost, 21 Feb. 2012
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Paperback)
Big surprise: "Anya's Ghost" is about a ghost. And a girl named Anya. But Vera Nosgol's graphic novel is definitely a lot more than that, as it shows a young girl discovering the difference between what she thinks she wants and what she really does want. And her journey is intertwined with wry humor, the uglier layers of high school, and a ghost story that takes a very sinister, dark turn in the last third.

Anya is a fairly typical teen girl -- embarrassed by her very Russian family, unhappy with her curvy body, and enamored of the handsomest, most popular boy at school. On her way home, Anya accidentally falls down an old well. At the bottom, she discovers a ghost named Emily who died there ninety years ago -- and when Anya gets out, she accidentally brings Emily's finger bone with her, allowing the ghost to roam with her.

And at first, Emily makes everything better -- she sympathizes with Anya's woes, helps her on tests, and even helps her interact with her crush. But at a wild party, Anya discovers that the "perfect" teenagers don't quite have the perfect lives she thought. And after a bit of research into Emily's death, Anya realizes that her new friend has a horrifying dark side -- and unless Anya does what she wants, she's going to target Anya's family.

At first, "Anya's Ghost" feels like a 1980s John Hughes coming-of-age movie, only with the added twist of a ghostly companion. There's a lot of angst, crushes, school woes, and a teenage heroine who has to discover what is really important for her in life. And at first, it seems that this is a light little tale about a girl and her ghostly BFF. But everything takes a dark, spinechilling turn later in the story, especially since Emily suddenly develops a creepy, Single White Female-ish fixation on Anya's love life.

And Nosgol's stark, thick-lined artwork really enhances all the emotions the characters feel. The climax is absolutely, um, spinechilling, without any excessive flourishes. And the scene where Anya has an honest talk with the class outcast is touching without being maudlin.

And Anya herself is a startlingly realistic depiction of a teenage girl -- she's embarrassed by her odd family, tries desperately to fit in, and is uncomfortable with her curvy body. But before long, we see hints that her disaffected, sarcastic persona is just a shell, and that the real Anya is a much more reliable, goodhearted person. Emily is the flipside: she seems sweet, gentle and earnest at first, but grows increasingly creepy.

"Anya's Ghost" is one half ghost story, one half high-school/coming-of-age tale. And it's a superb, eerie story right to the end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple review, 15 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Paperback)
An enchanting story which is beautifully illustrated. The artwork attracted me to this comic book/graphic novel, but the story is also quirky and interesting. Worth both the money and the read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read for a Younger Reader, 19 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Paperback)
I bought this book because it popped up in my Amazon recommendations, the ‘see inside’ preview looked interesting and it has a Neil Gaiman quote on the cover.

I say all this only to justify myself and mitigate my review because I’m not really the target audience for this.

Anya is a high school girl in an American private school. She comes from a Russian immigrant family and is painfully aware of her differences and wants to fit in. She also has the usual teenage hopes and dreams such as whether the cute boy in her class likes her.

Then one day she meets a ghost, a girl of a similar age who died nearly 90 years ago. She befriends the ghost and together they navigate some of the trials of high school. Only maybe her new best friend is not quite all she seems…

As I said above, I am really not the target for this book. So when I say that whilst I thought it was well-drawn and competently told the story was a little too straightforward and predictable, and the issues it dealt with (self-acceptance, peer pressure etc) a little cliche, then I am aware that I’m being unfair. On its own terms and for the market it’s aimed at it works well. For me it was enjoyable but just ok.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent graphic novel, 16 Mar. 2015
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Paperback)
I really enjoyed reading Anya's Ghost and finished it in one sitting. A beautifully drawn graphic novel, and a story well told. I liked the main character Anya and I empathised with her, and I found the story touching and entertaining, with a clever twist and a spooky element. I will definitely look out for other work by Vera Brosgol.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great art, great story, 29 Jan. 2014
By 
A. Lee - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Kindle Edition)
Gorgeous cartooning - deceptively simple. Domestic scenes are beautifully composed - an early sequence where Anya opens a fridge is superb. The ghost story which frames Anya's desire for acceptance as a cool American teen rather than a misfit immigrant is by turns tender and terrifying.
A quick read, but a good one.
One quibble - the kin d me version has to be viewed in landscape format - two pages at a time, whereas it'd be nice to see single pages on the whole screen.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, 8 May 2013
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This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Paperback)
Lots of fun. It's an enjoyable book that I think teenagers might love. The art is nice and consistent, and feels almost like Craig Thompson (Author of Blankets and Habibi) in some places (not to mention that the love interest actually LOOKS like Craig Thompson!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read it in one evening, 17 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Anya's Ghost (Paperback)
Was really surprised by how good this was, would definitely rank in my top 5 favourite graphic novels of-all-time-ever! The art was gorgeous and works flawlessly, the story is brilliant and at times, funny, scary and heartwarming.
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Anya's Ghost
Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
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