Reviews for Anya's Ghost

Booklist Reviews 2011 March #2
*Starred Review* Like Hope Larson's Mercury (2010), Brosgol's spooky, polished debut offers something that's still too rare in comics: a realistic, contemporary teenage girl's story. Growing up with her single Russian mother and younger brother, Anya works hard to fit in, and she distances herself from nerdy, heavily accented Dima, another Russian immigrant at her school. On a shortcut to school, Anya tumbles into a well, where a pile of bones swirls into the visible ghost of a young girl, Emily. When Anya is rescued, Emily comes along and becomes a constant companion, helping Anya cheat on tests and talk to crushes. With expert pacing and detail, Brosgol perfectly calibrates the subtle shifts from Anya and Emily's sunny, BFF bonding into the nightmarish reality that Emily has a terrifying agenda. Working in a clean-lined, cartoon style and an appropriately moody, bruiselike palette of purples and blacks, Brosgol uses clever panel arrangements and shifting close-up and aerial perspectives to amplify the action and emotion, from Anya's initial elation to her primal terror. The story of a teen who worries about appearing "fresh off the boat" makes this a natural companion to Gene Luen Yang's Printz Award winner, American Born Chinese (2006), and the contrast between everyday high-school concerns and supernatural horror add even further, broad appeal. New fans will hope for more from this talented newcomer. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Anya falls into an abandoned well. There she meets Emily, who's been dead and trapped inside for ninety years. When Anya is rescued, Emily goes too. Having a ghost for a best friend is "awesome"--at first. Brosgol portrays teenage relationships with a subtle touch throughout this graphic novel. Approachable art in black, white, and indigo enhances the wryly hilarious (and occasionally spine-tingling) story. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #4
In this graphic novel with the appeal of Raina Telgemeier's Smile, lonely, sardonic Anya ditches school one morning to fume about her many woes: her embarrassing Russian immigrant family, her self-perceived chubbiness, an unrequited crush, her manipulative (and only) friend Siobhan, an irritatingly clingy "fresh off the boat" boy named Dima. Distracted, Anya falls into an abandoned well, where she meets Emily -- who's been dead and trapped there for ninety years. When Anya is rescued, Emily seizes the opportunity to leave her bones and the well for the thrilling world of high school. Having a ghost for a best friend is "awesome" at first (Emily helps Anya cheat on quizzes and spies on her love interest), but Anya gradually learns that Emily hasn't been exactly honest about her death -- and that she'll stop at nothing to take Anya's life for herself. Brosgol portrays teenage relationships with family, friends, and self with a subtle touch, making Anya and even Emily as relatable as they are complex and quirky. Approachable sequential art, perfectly timed and rendered entirely in black, white, and shades of indigo, tells this wryly hilarious (and occasionally spine-tingling) story of self-acceptance. katie bircher Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 May #1

A deliciously creepy page-turning gem from first-time writer and illustrator Brosgol finds brooding teenager Anya trying to escape the past—both her own and the ghost haunting her.

Anya feels out of place at her preppy private school; embarrassed by her Russian heritage, she has worked hard to lose her accent and to look more like everyone else. After a particularly frustrating morning at the bus stop, Anya storms off, only to accidentally fall down a well. Down in the dark hole, she meets Emily, a ghost who claims to be a murder victim trapped down in the dank abyss for 90 years. With Emily's help, Anya manages to escape, though once free, she learns that Emily has traveled out with her. At first, Emily seems like the perfect friend; however, once her motives become clear, Anya learns that "perfect" may only be an illusion. A moodily atmospheric spectrum of grays washes over the clean, tidy panels, setting a distinct stage before the first words appear. Brosgol's tight storytelling invokes the chilling feeling of Neil Gaiman's Coraline (2002), though for a decidedly older set. In addition to the supernatural elements, Brosgol interweaves some savvy insights about the illusion of perfection and outward appearance.

A book sure to haunt its reader long after the last past is turned—exquisitely eerie. (Graphic supernatural fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 July #1

Anya Borzakovskaya has a mouthful of a name and a head full of angst. While her single mom, a Russian immigrant, studies for citizenship and cooks greasy syrniki pancakes, Anya obsesses about her weight and tries to fit in at her not-so-ritzy private school. Then she falls down a well, where she meets a ghost who wants to be her BFF. The transparent, dead Emily helps Anya cheat on tests, coaches her on looking hot, and encourages her crush on dudely dreamboat Sean. But what starts off as a hunky-dory supernatural buddy story takes a clever twist when Anya discovers Emily's darker side and Sean's seamier side--and manages to see through both of them. VERDICT This is a YA magical realist tale with adult appeal, featuring imperfect characters who can still use their smarts and decide to take the right course. And while it's all about empowerment, the story is also wonderfully creepy and entertaining. The Moscow-born Brosgol effectively uses two-toned art with halftones, far better than the many indie artists who overuse gray scale and textures. A YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens nominee.--M.C.

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Library Journal BookSmack
Anya Borzakovskaya wants nothing more than to blend in at her second-string prep school in this graphic novel, described on its cover by Neil Gaiman as a "masterpiece." Angsty Anya spends her days obsessing about her weight, cutting PE, and sneaking smokes; then a spill down an abandoned well introduces her to Emily, dead for some 90 years. Having a ghostly friend is fun at first; Emily helps Anya cheat on tests and get the attention of her crush, Sean. When it becomes clear to Anya that Emily's interest in her life has taken an unhealthy turn, she seeks the aid of Dima, a "fobby" ("fresh off the boat") classmate whose friendship she once rejected. Brosgol's straightforward graphic style perfectly communicates the nuances of this creepy mystery, which also serves as a cautionary tale for girls afraid to be themselves. Teens and adult readers alike will cheer for Anya as she takes back her life from a spirit run amok. - "35 Going on 13," Booksmack! 10/21/11 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
The teen years are rough, and Anya's feeling it. Her changing body makes her self-conscious, her family embarrasses her, and she's given up on trying to fit in at school. Oh, and her new BFF is a ghost. But maybe that last is just fine. First Second bills this as "spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere." (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 April #2

Anya Borzakovskaya is one frustrated, grouchy teenager. She's embarrassed by her Russian-migr mom; her little brother drives her bats; she doesn't fit in at school; she can't get the boy she likes to notice her; and her only weapons are her sharp tongue and perpetual sneer. Then she falls down a well and makes a friend: the very lonely ghost of a girl named Emily, who died there a hundred years before and can't leave her bones. Anya's the only one who can see Emily, of course, but Emily's excited enough to be out in the world again (via a tiny bone Anya carries around with her) that she offers to help her new pal out in all sorts of poltergeisty ways; Anya, in return, resolves to try to solve the mystery of Emily's murder. Brosgol's debut graphic novel--taut, witty, and breezily paced--seems to be heading in a very familiar direction, and then, abruptly, veers off toward a completely different and much more clever third act. Brosgol's two-toned purple-and-black images have a bold, cartoony flair, underscoring her knack for comic timing and pacing, and making nearly every stance and facial expression her characters adopt at least a little bit funny. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 July

Gr 7 Up--Anya is a Russian girl who wants to fit in with her American classmates. She falls down a well and meets a ghost named Emily, who was murdered. They become friends and promise to help one another. Emily helps Anya get closer Sean, a boy she likes. In return, Anya promises to help solve Emily's 90-year-old murder. The story is rather dark and at times darkly humorous, especially when Anya fantasizes about Sean. It gets even darker when Anya realizes that Emily has been concealing a very dangerous truth about herself. Anya's character is not always sympathetic-she cheats on tests, she is often rude to her friends, and she refuses to help another Russian student because he's too "fobby" (Fresh Off the Boat). But her interactions with Emily and Sean change her and help her to evolve into a character whom readers can admire. The artwork is made up of clean, cartoony lines, reminiscent of that in Hope Larson's Mercury (S & S, 2010). The mix of mystery, horror, and the coming-of-age theme combined with the appealing graphic style will make Anya's Ghost an ideal choice for reluctant teen readers.--Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

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