graphic novel

The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

18518711208 pages
Published August 1, 2014 by Switch Press
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: This quirky, narrative scrapbook gives readers a witty, honest look at what it means to be a teenager.Using mini-graphic novels, photos, sketches, and captions, The Isobel Journal offers a unique glimpse into the creative life of eighteen-year-old Isobel, just a northern girl from where nothing really happens.”

Review: I don’t have a lot to say about this book. I read another review that described it as “random” and I would have to agree. Yes, Isobel’s scrapbook is divided into three sections, but it is full of random drawings, photos and musings about her life. It was a quick read and was fine, but there wasn’t much of a plot, though I was able to piece together what Isobel’s life must be like based on the things she drew and wrote. The drawings were unique and quirky, definitely not what I would call beautiful drawings, but I still liked them.

I also liked Isobel’s musings about her identity and boys. I felt this is the part of the book that teenagers reading this book would most identify with and they were the most poignant, because I know I’ve had all those feelings at one point or another. The voice and drawings definitely seem to come from a teenage girl. I just quickly looked up the author and she is definitely a teenage girl! That explains the authenticity and while it wasn’t really a book for me, I do appreciate her honesty and I think a lot of teens will relate to her journal.


The Girl Who Owned a City by O. T. Nelson and illustrated by Joëlle Jones

13022967125 pages
Published April 1, 2012
Source: Netgalley

My parents are gone, so I’m responsible for my little brother Todd. I have to make sure we stay alive. Many kids are sick or starving, and fierce gangs are stealing and destroying everything they find. Lots of people have given up, but here on Grand Avenue, some of us are surviving, because of me.
I figured out how to give the kids on Grand Avenue food, homes, and protection against the gangs. But Tom Logan and his army are determined to take away what we’ve built and rule the streets themselves. How long can we keep fighting them off? We need to find another place for us to live safely. A strong place, a secret place. In a world like this, someone has to take charge.

Review: Some horrible disease has spread over the United States, only afflicted those over 12 years old. The only survivors are children, obviously. They must become resourceful or starve to death. Lisa and her brother are surviving on their own, but must face gangs that want to steal their food and resources. Lisa bands together with her neighborhood and they create a “city” in an former school.

Apparently this graphic novel is taken from the original book by O.T. Nelson. I’ve never read this book, so I can’t comment on the original. This book was originally published in the 1970s and I thought the illustrations had a retro feel without being dated. It was a nice nod to the original. Lisa is a strong character almost to the point of it being a fault. She creates a city and claims it as her own, to the point where she doesn’t want to admit that others helped her create the city. I felt like this could be a realistic mindset of an eleven year old.

Lisa, and many other of the characters are strong and resourceful and are able to survive despite their being no adults. I did a little research on the original book, and it looks like O.T. Nelson wanted to write a book with children in charge, to show children that they have their own power and agency. I think he accomplished this, because the children are able to survive on their own.

The ending seemed open ended and I don’t know if the original book is like that, but I do want to know if anything else happens to these characters. It does seem to be left open to have a sequel, and I would be interested to know more about the disease (which baffles me that it could only kill adults), what is happening in Chicago (briefly referenced in the book) and whether Lisa’s city is able to survive the onslaught from the other gangs.

Overall, I give this graphic novel 3 stars, I liked it.