2013 Best Graphic Novel Reads

To go along with the picture theme of today, I will also be featuring my best graphic novel reads of the year.

Graphic novels is a genre that I just kind of stumbled into, and I am IN LOVE with them. Like seriously. Over the past year I have read so many graphic novels that have been just as emotional of a read as a contemporary YA fiction book. The authors and illustrators of these books have such a talent for telling a story through short sentences and illustrations. It is quite a feat to create a graphic novel that invokes emotion from the reader and tells a comprehensive story, which is why I wanted to feature these books separately.

I did a post about a graphic novelist and illustrator that I discovered earlier this year, Faith Erin Hicks (review here). So here are the other graphic novels that I have read and loved this year!

Bake Sale

Bake Sale by Sara Varon

“Cupcake’s life is pretty good. He’s got his bakery, and his band, and his best friend, Eggplant. His days are full of cooking, socializing, and playing music. But lately, Cupcake has been struggling in the kitchen. He’s sure the solution to all his problems is out there somewhere. But maybe that solution is hiding closer to home.”

My Snippet Review: Okay, first of all, I love the fact that this is a story about a cupcake and an eggplant. It is just so dang adorable! This is the story of friendship, of following dreams, and of the sacrifices one must make to follow those dreams. Plus, it has a couple of recipes in the back, which is always FANTASTIC! Just a darn cute read!

Robot Dreams by Sara VaronRobot Dreams

“Richly endearing and full of surprises, Robot Dreams follows an ill-fated friendship between a dog and robot. After a Labor Day jaunt to the beach leaves Robot rusty and immobilized in the sand, Dog, unsure what to do, abandons him. As the seasons pass, Dog tries to replace his friend, making and losing a series of new ones, from a melting snowman to epicurean anteaters. Meanwhile, Robot passes his time daydreaming, escaping to better places…Through interwoven journeys, the two characters long to recover from their day at the beach.

Although its adorable characters and playful charm will win over young readers, Robot Dreams speaks universally to the fragile nature of friendship, loss, and redemption.”

My Snippet Review: This is one of those stories that stuck with me for a while after I finished. This is a wordless novel, and boy does it pack an emotional punch! Such a precious story of friendship and loss, but one with such an uplifting spirit. This is one of my favorite reads of this year, period. It is just so beautiful.

Monster on the HillMonster on the Hill by Rob Harrell

“In a fantastical 1860s England, every quiet little township is terrorized by a ferocious monster–much to the townsfolk’s delight! Each town’s unique monster is a source of local pride, not to mention tourism. Each town, that is…except for one.

Unfortunately, for the people of Stoker-on-Avon, their monster isn’t quite as impressive. In fact, he’s a little down in the dumps. Can the morose Rayburn get a monstrous makeover and become a proper horror? It’s up to the eccentric Dr. Charles Wilkie and plucky street urchin Timothy to get him up to snuff, before a greater threat turns the whole town to kindling. Monsters of all ages are sure to enjoy this tale about life’s challenges, the power of friendship, and creative redemption, packed with epic battles and plenty of wild beasts!”

My Snippet Review: This story is a twist on a typical monster story. The townspeople WANT a scary monster. Unfortunately, Rayburn just doesn’t like to be mean. Rayburn and his friend Tentaculor are such memorable monsters with such a humorous friendship. And there are treks and mushrooms and saving the world from a giant puddle of mud. What’s not to like?! This graphic novel was extremely entertaining!

Smile by Raina Telgemeier Smile (Smile, #1)

“Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.”

My Snippet Review:  Based on real events from her life, Raina Telgemeier creates such a realistic story of what it is like to be a middle school girl! From all the dental work to problems with friends, Telgemeier captures the emotional essence of what it is like to grow up and realize that the things that seem good might not be, and the things that seem horrible may just be better than you think.

Americus

Americus by M.K. Reed, Illustrated by Jonathan Hill

“Neal Barton just wants to read in peace. Unluckily for him, some local Christian activists are trying to get his favorite fantasy series banned from the Americus public library on grounds of immoral content and heresy. Something has to be done, and it looks like quiet, shy Neal is going to have to do it. With youth services librarian Charlotte Murphy at his back, Neal finds himself leading the charge to defend the mega-bestselling fantasy series that makes his life worth living.”

My Snippet Review:  What a perfect depiction of a banning books story! This one will make take you on a journey of many emotions–anger, pity, devestation. This is such a fantastic graphic novel about banned books and librarian’s standing behind literature! Huzzah! Seriously a great read!

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel Cardboard

“When cardboard creatures come magically to life, a boy must save his town from disaster.

Cam’s down-and-out father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday and he knows it’s the worst present ever. So to make the best of a bad situation, they bend the cardboard into a man-and to their astonishment, it comes magically to life. But the neighborhood bully, Marcus, warps the powerful cardboard into his own evil creations that threaten to destroy them all!”

My Snippet Review: Really gripping, really emotional read with a powerful message. A tale about grief, and finding the good in people. And cardboard robots out to destroy the world. EPIC. =)

Boxers (Boxers & Saints, #1)Saints (Boxers & Saints, #2)

Boxers/Saints by Gene Luen Yang

“Boxers & Saints is an innovative new graphic novel in two volumes – the parallel stories of two young people caught up on opposite sides of a violent rift. American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang brings his clear-eyed storytelling and trademark magical realism to the complexities of the Boxer Rebellion and lays bare the foundations of extremism, rebellion, and faith.”

My Snippet Review: Such a great illustration of a major part of China’s history, told in a very emotional way. For anyone who wants to learn about this part in Chinese history, I think that this duology really describes the emotions of the history perfectly. Gene Luen Yang uses fantasy elements to tell this historic story of rebellion. Definitely worthy of all of the nominations it has received this year!

Anya’s Ghost by Anya's GhostVera Brosgol

“Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part.
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.”

My Snippet Review: Anya is a girl that is slightly embarrassed about her culture and family amidst the super rich culture. A visually stunning read, with depth of characters and story. I love when characters learn through ghosts. It makes for a haunting, yet enjoyable read!

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl, #2)

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (Book two in the Zita series)

“Zita must find her way back to earth…but her space adventures have made her a galactic megastar! Who can you trust when your true self is overshadowed by your public image? And to make things worse…Zita’s got a robot double making trouble–while wearing her face!”

My Snippet Review: Okay, who couldn’t love a space adventure story featuring a female?! Zita is spunky and has a lot of heart and bravery, and this series of books is just so much fun! She travels through a wormhole and gets stuck in an alternate planet universe full of monsters and aliens. She makes new friends and saves the world from imminent doom! LOVE!

 

So, those are some of my favorite graphic novel reads from this year. I plan on reading a ton of them next year (I just can’t get enough!) so be on the look out for many reviews of graphic novels over the next year!

And come back tomorrow for more “Best of 2013 reads” features!

Love and Mustaches,
Jennifer

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