Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of What If We Were by Axelle Lenoir

Cover Art

What If We Were by Axelle Lenoir
Top Shelf Productions / IDW Publishing
Publication Date: December 8, 2020
ISBN: 9781603094801

Nathalie and Marie have been best friends for their whole life, and nearly that whole time, they have been playing a game called “What If.” One of them will start the game by saying “what if we were Vikings” or fruit or something else just as silly, and then they will go back and forth describing their lives in this scenario. Sometimes a game will take all afternoon or just a few seconds between classes in high schools. Each game lasts a few pages before jumping to the next game, allowing glimpses into their lives, minds, and friendship.

What If We Were is very character-driven; there is not much plot tying one game to the next, but Nathalie and Marie’s friendship is fun and engaging for readers. The different games are written similar to short stories, making this title easy to pick up and put down while capturing readers with a short attention span. What If We Were is realistic and has the feel of hanging out with a best friend. Interspersed between the different games Nathalie and Marie play are journal entries adding to the intimacy of the character development.

Fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Lumberjanes and Lenoir’s previous book Camp Spirit will find a lot to like in the similar artwork, tone, and the friendship of the characters. Teens who enjoy the brief nature of webcomics will also find reading What If We Were familiar in structure.

 —Cyndi Hamann

Other Nominated Titles

  • Nubia by L.L. McKinney and Robyn Smith (February 23, 2021)
  • The Disney Bros.: The Fabulous Story of Walt and Roy by Alex Nikolavitch and Felix Ruiz (December 15, 2020)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the field nomination form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are  available on The Hub.

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

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