Friday, December 8, 2017

Review - Ghostopolis

by Doug TenNapel
Date: 2010
Publisher: Graphix
Reading level: YA
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 272
Format: e-book
Source: library

Imagine Garth Hale's surprise when he's accidentally zapped to the spirit world by Frank Gallows, a washed-out ghost wrangler. Suddenly Garth finds he has powers the ghosts don't have, and he's stuck in a world run by the evil ruler of Ghostopolis, who would use Garth's newfound abilities to rule the ghostly kingdom. When Garth meets Cecil, his grandfather's ghost, the two search for a way to get Garth back home, and nearly lose hope until Frank Gallows shows up to fix his mistake.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

WARNING: Minor spoilers! To read the version with spoilers hidden, check out my review at Goodreads.

This was a surprisingly quick read for the length of the book, but that's probably because this graphic novel's a bit lighter on text than some of the others I've read. The synopsis made it sound like a fun read, and it was... in places. But the book had some problems. Plus, I don't think I was the intended audience.

At times, I wasn't sure what age group this book was aimed at. Some of the subject matter was heavy (a kid with a terminal illness, as well as the relationship between Frank and his ex), and that threw me because my first impression was that this was a middle grade title. It's actually supposed to be aimed at teenagers, which is a bit confusing, given some of the humour that seems like it was directed at 10-year-old boys.

The characters were a mixed bag for me. Some were incredibly creative (especially in the afterlife realm), but others were annoying and left me kind of cold. Frank, in particular, I didn't really like; he came across as a petulant little kid, though he was supposed to be a mature adult. Claire's werewolf uncle was actually pretty hilarious (I want a book just about him!) and the villain was suitably nasty. The skeleton horse was probably my favourite character, even though he didn't talk. Garth, though, as the main character, was kind of underdeveloped. And I had a big problem with his illness.

See, he doesn't appear to be sick. He's supposedly dying (from what, we're never told), and yet he doesn't have any symptoms. He doesn't appear to be having any sort of treatment, either. Unfortunately, this makes the whole illness aspect seem like a cheap plot device (especially when he finds out that there's going to be a cure for his disease, so he's not going to die after all). I don't think this would play very well to kids who are actually sick.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this one. The world-building is cute and some of the characters are amusing, but I felt like it was aimed at much younger readers and I can't get behind a book that trivializes serious illness.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Illustration: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 ladybugs

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