Graphic Novel Review: Cemetery Girl by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden

Cemetery Girl: The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden

Genre: Graphic Novel, Paranormal

Series: Volume 1 of The Cemetery Girl Trilogy

Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (January 2, 2014)

Author Information: Charlaine Harris | Christopher Golden

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

Despite reading my fair share of comics and graphic novels, I usually leave the reviewing of them to Wendy and Tiara. Theirs are always really good, whereas I wouldn’t even have any idea where to begin! So, you’re going to have to bear with me here. This will be my first ever comic review for the site, but I’m also really excited because it is for none other than Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden’s Cemetery Girl from Jo Fletcher books. Come to think of it, it’s a first for JFB too. This title is the first ever graphic novel published by them, and I was pretty thrilled when they sent me a copy.

The summary of it is as follows: the body of a young nameless woman, presumed dead, is dumped from the trunk of a car into a cemetery. But oh, actually she was still very much alive! In the rough landing, she hits her head and wakes up with no memory of who she was, or anything about her past. All she knows is that someone tried to kill her. Lost and alone, the girl decides to take shelter in a mausoleum, and as the days pass the place eventually becomes home. Combining the names from different tombstones and from the cemetery itself, the girl comes up with a new identity: Calexa Rose Dunhill.

The main plot of Cemetery Girl really gets going when Calexa witnesses a murder but is unable to go to the police, fearing that it would draw attention to herself, especially since her unknown would-be killer is still somewhere out there. But there’s a bigger mystery arc here too, invoking questions like, Who is Calexa, really? Who’s out to get her and why? On top of that, she seems to have developed a strange ability to see things, ever since waking up not-dead from her brutal attack. Basically, this volume contains a wonderful self-contained story, but you can also tell that the best has yet to come.

Anyway, you might think, oh what’s the big deal, Mogsy! Just review a graphic novel like you would a regular novel! But I don’t know. Being presented with a story visually, particularly in sequential art form, really changes things for me, especially since I have had experience penciling comic art in the past. In comics, there’s of course the added factor of how well the art meshes with the writing. So when it comes to questions I ask myself while writing a review, I have to reference them to the effectiveness of the illustrations as well. You gotta check this out, though:

From: http://www.jofletcherbooks.com/2013/11/cemetery-girl

From this awesome panel alone, you can tell that Kramer’s art and Rudoni’s colors definitely “click” with the tone of the story. Cemeteries are a tricky setting to pull off in art, since they are places of such emotion. You could say getting the atmosphere just right here is very important, since that’s where most of the story takes place. I think the artwork does the setting justice though, and the night time and stormy scenes are especially well done. The art in general is quite easy on the eyes.

As for the story, I felt it fit nicely with the format. With graphic novels, you could arguably get away with rushing the pace a little. Still, even as the days fly by for Calexa (Night one, Night two, Night twenty-six, Night sixty-eight, etc.), the story never loses sight of its goals. Sometimes, just a panel or two and a few lines of dialogue are enough to convey the more complex feelings, not to mention the writing makes use of quite a few silences as well, to good effect. I was most impressed by the way both writers and artists were able to develop the minor characters, like the cemetery caretaker or old Lucinda, and make them stand out for the reader.

Can graphic novels can have a “young adult” feel? If so, then Cemetery Girl definitely has a bit of that. Most likely this is due to the apparent age of the protagonist, not to mention the story also involves a group of trouble-making teens. The plot is relatively straightforward and character development may on the lighter side, but for a first volume this was extremely well done. Quite promising, too. Like I said, there are still many questions that need answering, and I find myself eager for news of the next volume!

A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Jo Fletcher Books!

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