Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2020) Nominees Round Up, March 21 Edition

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix
Amulet Books
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
ISBN: 978-1419728389

In 1930s Germany, pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer watches as his country is taken over by a madman. Adolf Hitler is incrementally growing power, committing atrocities against humanity, and despite all odds, not being stopped. When Hitler claims to be ordained as Germany’s leader by God himself, bringing the German Church to be one with the Nazi party, Dietrich knows he can no longer stand for Hitler’s falsehoods. To save his country and humanity from Hitler’s megalomania, Dietrich knows that to be true to God, he must turn his back on two of the tenets he has held most dear in his life of faith—the sanctity of country and the sanctity of all human life—and join fellow German conspirators in a plot to kill Hitler.

Hendrix masterfully weaves Dietrich’s journey of faith and resolve with Hitler’s steady rise to power. The reader is pulled into each agonizing decision Dietrich must make to remain true to God while also better understanding the circumstances that led to Hitler’s overtaking of Germany and his aims to take over the world. Though text heavy, Hendrix’s artwork enlivens and emboldens the action of the story. The limited color palette of blacks reds, and turquoise blues contrast Hitler’s angry red continence with Dietrich’s gentle blue spirit. The illustrations illuminate key details of the story to give the reader a full picture of the many intricate details of the war while also using metaphorical depictions, such as Hitler’s identification as the wolf, to demonstrate the horrors of Hitler’s reign.

Compelling to the end, this book is a must read for teens interested in history, theology, or World War II. Hand to readers along with Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home by Nora Krug and Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by David Polonsky.

—Lindsey Helfrich


Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal
Drawn and Quarterly
Publication date September 11, 2018
ISBN 978-1770463356

The future is female—literally. Over the last few generations, men have gone extinct. All babies born now identify as female. A village of women unifies under the flag of “Beyonce’s Thighs,” led by their cheerfully nudist mayor Gaia, a practical grandmother who is the source of all remaining knowledge about men, and an authentically diverse group of women and girls who are just as willing to contemplate the meaning of life as they are to make a fart joke. Aminder Dhaliwal’s graphic novel is a gentle vision of the apocalypse that’s also uproariously funny, punny, witty, and wise. It’s appeal is universal, as it contains all the things that readers of every age and identity cherish the most: puns, Beyonce, and the end of the world as we know it.  

Aminder Dhaliwal’s artwork is appealing and friendly with cute bubbly people in a simple black and white sketch style, and the occasional full color splash page. Told comics-style rather than presented as a straightforward narrative, there are lots of visual jokes and punchlines that are easily digestible in a few panels. Give Woman World to readers of lighthearted dystopias (Ready Player One, Good Omens), patrons who’ve been watching Hulu’s grim adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale and may need a change of pace, fans of absurdity and satire, and (obvi) anyone who’s ever watched “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,”      

—Kali Olson


Prism Stalker, Vol. 1 by Sloane Leong
Image Comics
Publication Date: September 5, 2018
ISBN: 9781534311572

Vep is a young refugee working as an indentured servant on a foreign planet. When a private military company arrives, she is forcefully enlisted and taken away to help colonize a newly discovered planet. As Vep trains in the military academy, she must grapple with her growing psychokinetic abilities and the mysteries of a new and unfamiliar world.

The world-building in Prism Stalker is thoughtful and complex, setting up a fun, sci-fi adventure story while also layering in interesting issues of colonialism, capitalism, and cultural alienation that is relevant to contemporary culture. The alien landscapes are imaginative and immersive, dense with intriguing otherworldly flora and fauna set in electric neon colors. Teen readers will find Vep an admirable protagonist, the action fast-paced, and the beautiful, kinetic art style appealing.

Prism Stalker’s mysterious alien landscape and strong protagonist is reminiscent of Arclight by Brandon Graham and Marian Churchland. Prism Stalker is also recommended for fans of sci-fi adventures like Jackson Lanzing’s Joyride, Jeff Lemire’s Trillium, and the YA novel Nyxia by Scott Reintgen.

—Crystal Chen


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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.