Friday, November 25, 2011

Graphic novel review: Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
Genre: Middle grade paranormal action
Publisher: Scholastic Graphix, 2010
Lists: ALA's 2011 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens
From: Local library

Story: Garth Hale is dying, but he's not dead yet. So when he finds himself in the afterlife, he's got to get back to his mom and the living. Luckily he has a skeleton horse and mysterious boy to help him get to Ghostopolis where, hopefully, he can find a way home.

Frank Gallows has been employed as a ghost wrangler with the Supernatural Immigration Task Force a long time. He's tired. He's jaded. He's sloppy. He didn't mean to send Garth to the afterlife, but that's what happened. Now he has to get Garth back. He needs the help of his ex-girlfriend Claire, but they didn't part on the best of terms.

Thoughts: This book is a lot of fun. Frank Gallows is a great character with his wrinkled suit and sneaky yet authoritative ways. I would love a whole book just about the Supernatural Immigration Task Force (SITF) and Frank on the job with all of his ghostbusting tools. SITF and Frank are only a small part of Ghostopolis. There's a lot going on. The way your afterlife age is decided, the world's political structure, and the workings of time and physics are all described in a whirlwind as Garth races to the town. There's also a lot of heart as Garth learns about trust, compassion, and forgiveness. It was a quick and enjoyable read with only a few bodily function jokes for the younger set. I especially liked the hissing cockroches.

The graphics in this novel are great. The drawings are nice and clear, and there's usually something interesting going on off in the background. I usually don't care for coloring in my graphic novels, but this one does it well. I especially liked the shadowy blues used inside the buildings to notch up the suspense. The dialogue is hand-lettered in all caps, and was sometimes difficult to read due to the non-standard shapes and sizing. My problems were all at the beginning though, so I either got used to the writing or the lettering became more readable as the story went on.

Final thoughts: A fun ghost adventure for middle-grade readers with enough unexpected events to keep teens and adults happy. A Ghostopolis film, starring and produced by Hugh Jackman, is scheduled to be released in 2013.

Grade: 4 out of 5

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