Monday, September 19, 2011

YA Review: Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Imagine God.
Now Imagine God as a 12 foot tall Tuskeegee Airman named Joe.
Now Imagine God, the Tuskeegee Airman named Joe, creating a place for all ghosts to dwell in six days.
Because of course on the seventh day, he rests.

The place he's built is called Ghostopolis, and all the types of the dead (live) there: Specters, Wisps, Bony Skeletons, Mummies and more. They reside in somewhat perfect harmony until a stranger named Vaughn appears and stirs up rumors and trouble between all the groups only to then present himself as the only one to bring peace. He uses giant bugs, summoned from the Underworld, to help him police Ghostopolis, and he secretly works to ensure that he will soon be as powerful and in control as Joe, who no one has seen for years.

And he would be successful too, if not for two problems: Traitors and Living People.

Back in the land of the living, The Supernatural Immigration Task Force is cracking down on runaway ghosts who are sneaking back into our world. Investigator Frank Gallows is at the top of his game, tracking down the ghosts and zapping them back to Ghostopolis, when he accidentally sends a living/dying boy named Garth, along with a ghost. Garth has an incurable disease, and only had a few more months with the living anyway, but those months should be enjoyed! His mother pleads for his speedy return by the SITF, and two extraction teams head out to get him, but not before Garth can stir up some trouble, memories and good feelings down in Ghostopolis. He may even have within him, the spirit that can make Joe return.

I absolutely love this book.
I was expecting something darker and far less comical, but it was just the right dose of humor and emotion. Garth, Frank, and even Vaughn were all funny but they also made me feel compassion towards them. Even at his worst, there was something about Vaughn that made me care for his part of this tale.

The subject of death and dying can be hard to discuss with young adults in a way that isn't preachy or clinical. Garth's feelings towards his own grim future was indifferent at times, but there were also subtle ways that the author revealed Garth's true feelings towards his life, his possible impending death, and his relationship with his mother. Joe as a strong but gentle godlike figure was, I thought, a fresh way to encourage readers to be hopeful and helpful, no matter what their personal circumstances may be.

There were some quirky things that felt rushed or unexplained, but the rest of the story was so captivating and funny that I let those few moments slide. I've read my fair share of graphic novels which used their images only to add to the written words, but with this book, I truly felt as though the pictures could have told a story by themselves. They included some of the jokes, and a great deal of emotion.

There were some allusions to this being the first in a series, and I truly, truly hope that comes to pass.
The movie rights have already been purchased by Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and it is slated for a 2013 release.
View all my reviews

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