Ghost Book is an excellent spooky middle grade graphic novel inspired by Chinese traditions. that follows July Chen who has the ability to see ghosts. This special gift becomes a big problem during Hungry Ghost month when the Gates of the Underworld open allowing hungry ghosts to return to the living world. When July comes across the wandering soul of a young boy, she sets out to help him, warding off hungry ghosts with her dad’s dumplings. This is a great spooky season read that isn’t too scary and deals with issues of friendship and grief in sensitive ways.
What if death was sent to collect two souls, but managed to leave with just one instead? How does the universe cope with the disturbance? It's an adventure story, but half the problem solving duo is a ghost and the other half should have been. Great story and art.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book, as this book has already been published, I will not share my review on Netgalley at this time.
July can see ghosts. She has yin yang eyes. Perhaps her connection to the world of the dead comes from her mother's death in childbirth, or something else. When Hungry Ghost Month starts, July tries to impress her school mates by summoning a Hungry Ghost. Perhaps then they'll remember her. What happens instead is that she connects with the ghostly form of a not-yet-dead boy and his ghostly pet companion and saves him from a Hungry Ghost. Now July is on a mission, even if it takes her to the Underworld (possibly under her school) to restore the boy to life. Readers will be like hungry ghosts, hungry for more.
It's a creative and exciting take on ghost stories. I loved the interactions between the ghost child and the living child.
I appreciate that this book doesn't devote long passages to explanation of culture. We are able to gather a fair amount from context, though I still had many questions and foreknowledge of the culture would have been helpful. We get some breakdown of types of ghosts but mostly the focus is on the characters.
This reminded me so much of Spirited Away. I know kids who love spooky graphic novels will adore it.
July Chen feels invisible at school and when she is at home with her father. The only time she feels seen is by a ghost that no one else can see. Until she meets a ghost that is still tethered to his body. This ghostly adventure will have readers on edge and wanting to know what happens next. The illustrations have a Studio Ghibli essence and a vibrant texture. Grief and friendship are strong themes that run through this graphic novel.
I saved this for spooky season, and I'm so glad I did, because this was amazing. I expected to enjoy this, but it seriously exceeded my expections, and I LOVE when that happens. This is a middlegrade graphic novel that I would describe as having very similar vibes to Cemetery Boys and Spirited Away. I'm surprised I haven't seen more hype surrounding it, because I think it's such a good read for anyone, regardless of age.
I enjoyed Remy Lai's earlier work, and Ghost Book did not disappoint! I usually gravitate toward more detailed art styles, but the illustrations were lovely. The plot was on-level with middle-grade but had a few twists, so it was still engrossing for a younger age group. Overall, I found this graphic novel sweet and appropriately creepy. I also enjoyed seeing a different cultural perspective of death and the afterlife.
Ghost Book was an enjoyable graphic novel that follows July Chen and her ability to see ghosts. Once she meets William, who is a ghost, they end up on an adventure that shows them how connected they are in the world.
This was a cute and sweet, and slightly scary, middle grade graphic novel about friendship. The ghosts were creepy, the human characters realistic and the art was appropriately icky for the ghosts, but nice looking for the rest.
My one quibble with this book is a pet peeve that has gotten larger as time has passed for me. The "adults know what is going on, but can't trust the kids with the info even though the info is necessary for keeping them safe, because ignorance is SOOOOOO much safer than the truth, so the kids make BAD decisions that put them in the danger the adults were hoping they would somehow magically avoid by not knowing anything about what to do" trope. Or also, the "Harry Potter" trope as I sometimes call it.
Ignorance is NEVER safer. The daughter in this is 11 or 12, old enough to know the truth and to be able to act appropriately with said truth. Yet the father tells her NOTHING and it almost gets her/her new friend killed. It also subtly teaches kids that you can't trust adults to tell you the truth, even when it's safer for them if they know it. That's not a lesson we should be teaching to children.
3.5 stars, rounded down because that pet peeve trope really annoys me. Not a bad book and if that's not a pet peeve for you, I recommend this book. The friendship story is really heartwarming.
3, I wish the dad had told his daughter the truth sooner, stars.
My thanks to NetGalley and Henry Holt BYR/Macmilllan for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.
Beautiful art and a charming story. It hurt my heart and made me laugh at turns. I will absolutely be recommending this one!
Remy Lai is a trusted graphic novelist for middle grade readers. Her books are reliably entertaining, funny, and heartwarming. Ghost book is a perfectly spooky read with a tale of a pair of bumbling grim reapers, an unlucky boy whose soul is frequently trapped between the living and the dead in a series of near-miss accidents, and a lucky girl who is easily forgotten to the point that she is considered a Nobody.
I loved the anime-adjacent style of the book with a slightly spooky edge. This is a joyful read for all ages, and I highly recommend for schools and libraries.
Once there were two servants of the Underworld sent to a hospital to collect two souls, but they only left with one.
Therein lies the tale . ..
Twelve years later, July Chen has always wondered why people seem to ignore her, and no one can remember her name. She is a girl with yin-yang eyes who can see ghosts, and one day she meets William, a boy hovering between life and death. July will do whatever she can to keep William alive, even if it means sacrificing her own soul.
This is a clever and fun graphic for middle grade readers who don't mind a little bit of spooky in their stories. I would have LOVED this as a kid, though the Hungry Ghosts would have given me nightmares. Inspired by Chinese folk tales, this would make a fantastic animated film. (Are you listening Pixar?)
Highly recommended for libraries.
I received an ARC—thanks goes to NetGalley and MacMillan. I'm voluntarily leaving a review.
I adore the art in this graphic novel, it pulled me in. Learning more about the Chinese mythology is so interesting. I thought it handled the sensitive subjects well.
I recommend this book.
I adored this graphic novel. The story was so cute and spooky, and I loved the artwork. It was interesting to learn about hungry ghosts and Chinese mythology. The friendship between the main characters, July and William, was so sweet.
You should definitely pick up this graphic novel if you’re looking for a spooky, cute, and heartwarming read.
Fans of Spirited Away will love this fun and emotional story. Ghost Book balances supernatural whim and necessary conversations about grief and love.
This book was so generous and delightful. The strength July shown was unmatched, and she is the finest friend we all desire in our lives. The new superhero that we all need is she.
I was completely engrossed in the story due to its intrigue. I read this cover to cover because I had to find out more about these ravenous spirits and the truth of July's life. The artwork was really amazing and ideal for this kind of tale.
The book Ghost Book was fantastic. I'm eager to embark on more eerie journeys with July.
Remy Lai's Ghost Book is a spooky graphic novel that deftly mixes friendship and adventure with elements of Chinese culture and folklore. July can see ghosts despite her father's insistence that they don't exist. At the start of Hungry Ghost Month, she saves William from being eaten by one of the hungry ghosts. At first, she believes he's just another ghost, but July learns that William isn't a ghost--at least not yet. He's not quite alive, but not yet dead. July and William strike up a friendship and she is determined to help him. This leads to encounters with a variety of ghosts as well as some unexpected discoveries about ways their lives are intertwined. Beautiful artwork, creative plot, and well-developed characters make Ghost Book a winner. The readers at my school looking for creepy, scary stuff will devour this one!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review an eARC of the book.