Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

First off, I’ll admit that I’m relatively new to the graphic novel craze. I understand why kids love them so much, but I just prefer plain old text- thank you very much. Not only was Ghostopolis a different medium for me, but it was also full of skeletons, zombies and strange creatures—so not my genre.  However, it was on YALSA’s 2011 Top 10 Graphic Novels list, so I figured it was worth a read.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“Imagine Garth Hale’s surprise when he’s accidentally zapped to the spirit world by Frank Gallows, a washed-out ghost wrangler. Suddenly Garth finds he has powers the ghosts don’t have, and he’s stuck in a world run by the evil ruler of Ghostopolis, who would use Garth’s new found abilities to rule the ghostly kingdom. When Garth meets Cecil, his grandfather’s ghost, the two search for a way to get Garth back home, and nearly lose hope until Frank Gallows shows up to fix his mistake.”

After reading the entire book in one sitting, I realized how great the book truly is. It is fast paced, action packed, yet still contains enough depth and story to really impress!  Indeed, throughout this story of family and beliefs, problems are resolved and relationships mended.

Visually, I loved the lettering and coloring. The panel presentation is straight forward, and easy to interpret for those not used of reading graphic novels.  The action sequences are well depicted and leaps off the page!

As much as I did love the book, I did have a few plot issues that I am still questioning:

            -Why the heck is Garth so powerful? It was not explained.

            -Why call her Claire Voyant if she isn’t clairvoyant?

-In the book, the dead in Ghostopolis look like their maturity age instead of their true death age. While I liked this concept, I don’t think it was carried through properly.

Also, the climax and quick ending didn’t quite sit right with me.  Rather than an action packed battle of man-buildings, I was hoping for a small scale character focused conclusion. I think it would have been truer to the depth and story of the book.

Overall, after reading the book, I would say that it is aimed at younger readers in grade 5-8ish.  Garth’s comments, jokes and comebacks are sometimes childish. Regardless of Garth’s comebacks, I still found the book entertaining and I think other adults would too.   I also think it would make a fantastic Tim Burton movie! I recently attended the Tim Burton exhibit in Toronto, and I can’t help but picture Burton creating this alternate world and making it come to life.


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