5-Star Book Reviews: Graphic Novels

We continue our series of posts featuring some of the best books in the CA Library collection — today’s featured titles are all Graphic Novels, both fiction and nonfiction. Follow the links for each book to learn more from the CA Library catalog!


After The Rain by Nnedi Okorafor, adapted by John Jennings — A Nigerian-American woman named Chioma answers a knock at her door and is horrified to see a boy with a severe head wound standing at her doorstep. He reaches for her, and his touch burns like fire. Something is very wrong. Haunted and hunted, Chioma must embrace her heritage in order to survive. “Jennings paints an initially terrifying reality, highlighting the vulnerability of self-discovery and the tension of being from two different worlds and cultures. Part horror, part magical realism, this #OwnVoices story is a worthwhile addition to any collection” (School Library Journal).

The Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard — In this collection of literary slice-of-life horror, five stories explore what happens when one is desperate enough to seek solace and connection in the world of monsters and darkness. “The art, consisting of realistic-looking crosshatching lines on white panels, is stunning, with various shapes and shading used intentionally to amp up the drama” (Kirkus Reviews).

The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge — Sometimes, the world is too much for Mona Starr. She’s sweet, geeky, and creative, but it’s hard for her to make friends and connect with other people, and her depression seems to take on a vivid, concrete form. She calls it her Matter. “Introspective, honest, and hopeful, this is a realistic look at the impacts of mental illness that so many youth experience” (Booklist).

Displacement by Kiku Hughes — Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II. These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself ‘stuck’ back in time. “A potent look at history and the lasting intergenerational impact of community trauma” (School Library Journal).

Flamer by Mike Curato — It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone’s going through changes–but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance. “Curato gives Aiden a poignantly well-rounded character … Masterfully nuanced and stunningly told, this is visual storytelling at its finest” (Booklist).

The Girl From The Sea by Molly Ostertag — Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore. But Keltie has some secrets of her own. “Adorable and authentic, this coming-out story is a must-purchase for YA collections … [and] a great title for book clubs” (School Library Journal).

Himawari House by Harmony Becker — When Nao returns to Tokyo to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, she books a yearlong stay at the Himawari sharehouse. There she meets Hyejung and Tina, two other girls who came to Japan to freely forge their own paths. “The predominantly photorealistic art is enhanced with a range of stylized techniques that masterfully communicate emotion. Altogether, this work exemplifies what the graphic novel format can achieve” (Kirkus Reviews).

The Last Halloween, Book 1: Children by Abby Howard — It’s Halloween night and Mona is stuck inside without so much as a scary movie to watch. She figures this Halloween couldn’t get any worse, but a giant monster appears in her living room to prove her very, very wrong. She is chased out into the night where she encounters some odd new friends and finds herself on a quest to save humanity from billions of monsters. “There are some unexpected turns here, and for all the Clive-Barker-meets-Adventure-Time playfulness, she ends on a disarmingly sober cliff-hanger. Tailor-made for fans of postmodern horror comedy” (Booklist).

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds — As Will, fifteen, sets out to avenge his brother Shawn’s fatal shooting, seven ghosts who knew Shawn board the elevator and reveal truths Will needs to know. “Reynolds’s words paint pictures of their own in this tragic yet poignant illustrated tale that offers no answers to the seemingly impossible choices some communities face” (School Library Journal).

The Magic Fish by Le Nguyen — Real life isn’t a fairytale. But Tíãen still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tíãen, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through? “Warm, loving family and friends are a refreshing alternative to immigrant stories that focus on family problems. Beautifully illustrates how sharing old stories can be the best way to learn how to share new ones” (Kirkus Reviews).

My Last Summer With Cass by Mark Crilley — Megan and Cass have been joined at the brush for as long as they can remember. For years, while spending summers together at a lakeside cabin, they created art together, from sand to scribbles. Then Cass moved away to New York. When Megan finally convinces her parents to let her spend a week in the city, too, it seems like Cass has completely changed. “Through subtle, realistic lines and nostalgic, watercolor-style art, including several charming full-panel landscapes, the author creates an immersive story that will resonate with readers” (Kirkus Reviews).

Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney — Nubia has always stood out because of her Amazonian strength, but even though she uses her ability for good she is seen as a threat, so when her best friend Quisha is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia risks everything to become the hero society tells her she is not. “A thrilling, timely, and thoroughly engaging full-length debut for a classic comic hero. No superhero collection is complete without Nubia” (School Library Journal).



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