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Anya's Ghost

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Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.

Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya's normal life might actually be worse. She's embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she's pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend--even a ghost--is just what she needs.

But Anya's new B.F.F. isn't kidding about the "forever" part...

221 pages, Paperback

First published June 7, 2011

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About the author

Vera Brosgol

20 books1,017 followers
Vera Brosgol was born in Moscow, Russia in 1984 and moved to the United States when she was five. She received a diploma in Classical Animation from Sheridan College, and currently works at Laika Inc. in Portland, Oregon drawing storyboards for feature animation.

She has done illustration work for clients such as Nickelodeon, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Simon & Schuster. Her first graphic novel, Anya's Ghost, was published in 2011 by First Second Books.

She loves knitting, baking, and trying not to kill her plants. She hopes you are enjoying looking at her drawings!

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Profile Image for Seth T..
Author 2 books844 followers
July 26, 2011
When I was in high school, there wasn’t a lot of bullying. And there weren’t really any cliques. Or maybe there were but I was just too blissfully ignorant to notice. It’s not like I was especially popular. It’s not as if I wasn’t kind of nerdy or kind of artsy or kind of freaky. I mean, look at me.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Yep. This is exactly as rad as it looks.

It’s more just that I never felt as if I couldn’t, if I had wanted to, talk to someone and have them not snub me outright. Maybe it’s different in other schools around the country, but according to my experience in Orange County circa 1990, school-based YA lit just doesn’t ring true.

Generally speaking, of course. There are always a few works of the genre that don’t play to cliché. Thankfully, Anya’s Ghost avoids most of the usual traps of the form. There are even moments when I found myself gleefully surprised at a direction in which Vera Brosgol would choose to take her story. Anya’s Ghost, as one may have guessed by now, is about three things. A girl named Anya, high school shenanigans, and, of course, a ghost. So really, the joy is in the details of how the story all works out rather than in the genius of any of the three parts on their own.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Life Lesson #1: Don’t fall down pits in the park. Just not as healthy as you’d imagine.

In the first place, Brosgol works hard to make Anya a character who very easily could be weird or strange or unwelcome but isn’t. She’s a typical teen from an immigrant family. She herself is an immigrant and by her word we learn that she’s worked very hard to compensate for her inauspicious country of origin. She’s overcome her accent, acclimated to the cultural diversity of young American life, and doesn’t dress like someone who’s just discovered clothes. (Apparently dressing like someone who can put together a plausible outfit is not something immigrants can naturally accomplish?) She’s also embarrassed by her native culture and goes to lengths to distance herself from that which will mark her as Foreign. Sometimes that means shortening an obnoxiously difficult-to-pronounce last name and sometimes it means forsaking the other kid from your country who hasn’t quite overcome his eager-foreigner tendencies yet.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
It happens…

In a lot of ways, Anya’s Ghost explores the same cultural experience Gene Yang looks at in American Born Chinese , the barrier between being true to our own identity and being accepted by the world around us. While Yang’s protagonist gets a perm and imagines himself white, Brosgol’s Anya is determined to be assimilated. Both books speak gently to the threat of alienation, to the social stigma attached to not fitting in. Both works, in the end, admonish the reader that fitting in isn’t the be-all, end-all of human—let alone high school—existence. And best of all, neither book comes off overly preachy in their lessons, which is always nice for stories that contain overt morals at book’s end.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Young women, know this: your fears of turning out to look like your mother are well-founded. Age is a terrible, terrible thing. It must be stopped. The world needs a new hero.

Brosgol uses as much care with her exploration of the high school drama as she does in keeping her protagonist well-rounded. She doesn’t travel the typical lazy storytelling route of dividing the school into neat compartments. There are no jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, skaters, goths, or loadies in evidence here. There are no Heathers. Instead, there are just kids. And these kids have their social connections, but they aren’t divided down lines so plain as Extracurricular Interest. Anya has one best friend, an Irish girl named Siobhan, but she seems on friendly (or at least neutral) terms with most people. Dima, the Russian-extracted goodie-two-shoes, doesn’t pal around in a herd of nerds but simply offends on his lonesome. And Anya’s as-yet-unreciprocated romantic interest, Sean, is not the leader of the popular kids. He’s just a good-looking guy with a good-looking girlfriend. These are realistic persons forming a realistic net of relationships.

And as for the ghost, I’ll refrain from talking too much about her, simply because her role drives the story. We’ll just leave it at this: I was surprised by what Brosgol did with what could have been a terribly cliched device. And that I could be so pleasantly pleased speaks highly for Brosgol’s product here.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
I dated a girl once with haunted cleavage. Well, okay, no. I didn’t. But pretending I did makes the whole thing seem more worthwhile.

In fact, the entire package is just extremely well-conceived. The art, while cartoony and fairly simple, is just about perfect. Brosgol employs a style that reminds me of Andi Watson’s work on later Skeleton Key (maybe crossing volumes 4 and 5), which is just a fantastic place to start. The panel composition is fluid, well-pronounced, and tells Brosgol’s story without any difficulty. It’s all very clean and tidy—and in this reminds me of Yang’s ABC. As well, Anya herself is drawn in such a way that we can see she’s a bit off from the cultural ideal but still beautiful on her own. It’s primarily her own lack of confidence that keeps people from noticing her.

So far as the writing goes, Brosgol treats her characters with respect and even when she’s not giving them whip-smart repartee, she at least keeps them from speaking like imbeciles. This is trickier than you might imagine in the domain of YA lit. Consider the best-selling Hunger Games. Or the better-selling Twilight. Dialogue is hard. Smart or believable dialogue is harder still. Anya’s Ghost pretty much nails this. (It’s not Raymond Chandler, but really, what is?)

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
The ghost has a point, I guess.

Prior to this work, I was entirely unfamiliar with Vera Brosgol or her work. Even now, I don’t know if she’s created anything else. But based on Anya’s Ghost, I plan to check out whatever bibliography she has as soon as this review posts. I am now a fan.

[review courtesy of Good Ok Bad]
Profile Image for Nat.
542 reviews3,170 followers
June 5, 2020
“You’re no saint, Anya.
You’re just like me”

This story follows Anya Borzakovskaya who’s an immigrant from Russia, residing in the United States, alongside her mother and brother.
Anya isn't doing particularly well in school. She doesn't have many friends.
And one day while she’s feeling particularly blue about her life, she falls into a deep hole in the ground. Underground she meets Emily, a 90 year old ghost.


This graphic novel not only focuses on a creepy, old ghost- it also talks about Anya’s self-image and her journey towards accepting herself. I could really relate to how Anya was feeling, and I’m glad that she gradually started to accept her background and history over the course of this story.
It was a quick read that I had been looking forward to for months now.
But the whole story with Emily, the ghost, didn’t really move or excite me (I do have to admit that I couldn’t read this at night—Ghosts scare me!).

Oh, and Anya’s beep test in gym class brought back those horrible memories of my test.
It’s been years but that beep test still haunts me.


3.5 stars

*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying Anya's Ghost, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!*

This review and more can be found on my blog.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
734 reviews5,018 followers
September 28, 2022
'I don't think murder is an appropriate reaction to disappointment.'

Anya has enough on her plate already with trying to fit in, seem cool and general school drama but now she has a ghost to worry about too. Anya's Ghostby Russian-American author and illustrator Vera Brosgol is a delightful coming-of-age graphic novel with a supernatural twist, but what really makes it shine are the ways it also examines immigrant identities. Having a ghost as a companion--one she uses to her advantage until she realizes she's unleashed far more than shes bargained for--gives Anya a new perspective on life and her peers, ultimately leading her to reflect inwardly on herself. With adorable and effective artwork and a rather textured plot that feels fresh even when it recycles a few genre clichés, Anya's Ghost is a fun and gritty story.

The plot is fairly simple but really works. Anya Borzakovskaya falls into a hole when skipping school and discovers it is the final resting place of a girl from 90 years ago who happens to still haunt the hole. When a piece of her skeleton makes its way out of the pit in Anya's bag, she is able to travel along. Making a promise to solve Emily-the-ghost's possible murder and bring her bones to peace, she has Emily tag along to help her cheat on tests and try to ensnare the attention of the popular boy (despite his girlfriend being in the picture).

'You’re no saint, Anya,' Emily tells her. She's definitely not a model student or a great friend, plus some moral issues, but Anya is believable and relatable. Also quite funny in her teenage too-cool-for-this-ness. She begins to realize her hostile and cool personality is a front for her inner-struggles and self-image issues. Which is where the book really works best. Having come to the United States as a young girl, she was initially bullied for her accent and Otherness, forcing her to adapt as a self-defense mechanism. On the other hand is the other Russian student at her school, Dima, who has no desire to adapt. Dima is constantly bullied and Anya looks the other way out of an attempt at self preservation. This is a disappointment to her mother--as is most of Anya's actions--as her and Dima's mother sent their children to the same school to look out for each other.

This is a sharp and critical look at the much lauded idea of a 'melting pot America' where fitting in really means discarding identity. Emily criticizes Anya for her cold shoulder towards Dima (and for Americanizing her name out of embarrassment), telling her a century ago immigrants bonded together to protect each other. Instead of throwing each other to the sharks, being supportive could lead to fitting in while still being proud of your heritage. The bullies, and the popular kids, Anya soon learns, aren't even people she truly wants to be like. 'Impressing a bunch of snooty teenagers is a pretty lame life goal to have.'

All this is going on underneath the cute exterior of a haunting and grisly murder story. Realizing Emily might be problematic for her, particularly in enabling her bad habits, Anya quickly regrets pushing away her only friend, Siobhan who, honestly, is the best character: a caustic best friend who won't sugarcoat anything and lets you know when you messed up but only because they actually care. When Anya investigates Emily's life further things take a dramatic twist, one that felt earned and really worked. The last portion of the novel increases in intensity, but the flow of the story suddenly speeds up and feels a bit uneven. More of the terrors from the ending sections and prolonging the threatening atmosphere would have been nice.

This was fun and really cute, like a darker and more horror-oriented version of Séance Tea Party. Brosgol has a lovely artistic style that creates a perfect eerie mood and comes alive in the minimal colors. This does have some adult themes so use discretion if giving this to a child, but it is just as much fun for adults too. The themes of immigration add such a wonderful texture to this creepy tale.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,850 reviews34.9k followers
May 23, 2016
Just to *touch* this book is a special treat.
The black and white graphic photos are filled with emotion themselves.
Anya is a teenage girl -in High School -in the United States ---from Russia.
Yeah....'you' try fitting in!

The story, photos, shape of the book, 'feel' of the book, the experience of the book is endearing, enchanting, spooky, sweet, sad, funny, .................and so delightful!
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews942 followers
July 10, 2011
This review is probably going to be shorter than others because of risk of spoilers. Just take my word for it and read this book.

"You may look normal like everyone else, but you're not. Not on the inside."

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Aww. I wish all books were graphic novels.

High Points.
Just the fact that this book is a YA graphic novel makes my heart soar with joy. I can’t get enough of them and I don’t trust people who don’t like them. Seriously, people who don't like them... what is wrong with you?! Vera Brosgol’s drawings are beautiful and eerie and perfectly compliment the story and issues that are covered. The use of the blue, black and white hues was inspired and so effective. Diversity. Realistic teenage girls with real life insecurities. Best friends. First crushes. Badass heroine.

Low Points.
I did not need the reminder of the bleep test. Dark times…. Dark times. Oh and yeah… page 205-207? You owe me a night’s sleep, Ms Brosgol.

Anya Borzakovskaya is prickly, sarcastic, rebellious, she skives boring lessons and wears short skirts to school. So naturally she was everything I love about in a YA heroine. She is also witty, clever and her ‘flaws’ only made me love her more.
There was this great subtlety in Brosgol’s writing/drawing and Anya’s insecurities were introduced with such skill and it never felt too overwhelming. From the get go, Anya is at odds with society. She is insecure in how she looks, she’s self-conscious about her heritage, she has a crush on a boy who has a blonde All-American girlfriend with the perfect life and she argues with her mum all the time because they don’t understand how the other one is feeling. And then she gets haunted by a pesky ghost. I mean, come on…doesn’t she get a break?

Best Friend.
I lovedlovedloved Siobhan. She was my favourite kind of literary friend who, basically, tell the heroine to shut the eff up and get over it when they’re being dramatic and don’t let them become too annoying or bitchy. I would like to have seen more of Siobhan because she is the Jane to Anya’s Daria.
And then we have Emily… but I’ll let you get acquainted with her on your own.

Theme Tune.

Long Black Veil- Johnny Cash

Angst Factor.
8/10. Apart from the fact that this book was terrifying for approximately the entire book, Brosgol is a master of creating a beautiful story with a message that everyone who has ever felt like they haven’t fit in can relate to. It’s OK not to fit in because the people who you think are living the perfect life are just as flawed as the rest of us.

Recommended For.
EVERYONE. People who appreciate an amazing graphic novels. People who like their heroines sarcastic, realistic, flawed and AWESOME. People who have ever looked at someone else’s life and thought they would want to swap. People who would rather scale their school wall than do the bleep test. People who trust Neil Gaiman’s words of wisdom (He called this book a ‘masterpiece’and it truly, honestly, completely is). People who aren’t above using a ghost to cheat on an exam.

You can also read the review for this book and others and a whole lot of other exciting stuff on my blog here.
Profile Image for Ms. Smartarse.
579 reviews237 followers
November 30, 2019
Anya is a typical American teenager. Or... she would be if only she weren't Russian, or weird, unpopular and clumsy. I mean, things could definitely be worse: she might've still had an accent, be as plump as her mother, or (God Forbid!) the resident school weirdo.
Good thing, she put those things behind her.

the worst

And then one day she falls into a big hole... and dies. Eventually, at any rate. In the aforementioned hole however, she meets Emily, a perfectly nice little girl if only she weren't dead. Still, when one is in dire need of some cheat sheets to get through life, a ghost is an excellent ally to have.


Although I read my fair share of graphic novels (i.e. manga), I wouldn't know the first thing about reviewing them. Granted, the fact that most of them are yaoi in genre probably has something to do with it. There's only so much "haaaawt!!" and/or "yuuuuuuck!!!!!!" to go around, before your reviews become repetitive. Yes, those are my only qualifiers. You didn't really think I read them for the plot, did you?

But back to Anya: the story is... cute, I guess. The characters are decently drawn. Not necessarily pretty, such as the ones in, say, the Koibitogokoro series, but not ugly either. Suffice to say, that it didn't distract me from the story line... which may or may not be a good thing. You be the judge of that.

Score: 3/5 stars

The entire novel could be summed up as "careful what you wish for", with the typical dash of "too good to be true", "don't be slut", "family is for life", yadda, yadda, yadda...
Emily was interesting, I grant you that (especially when she started to show her real colours), but the rest of the cast was rather... meh.

As far as I'm concerned, graphic novels are all about the art. Sure the story also has its place, but unless you're publishing a 1000-page book, it's unlikely to be something life changing. Decent art, predictable plot and an interesting character make it worth an average rating. That said, I'll be giving it away the first chance I have. So... tomorrow?
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.2k followers
July 1, 2016
PS: After my first reading in 2014 I gave it 5 stars; after my second reading, in 2016: 3 stars. After class discussion today, two days after rereading the book, I have to bump it back up to 4 stars. In the class this summer we have thus far Ms. Marvel, Paper Girls, Blankets, The Arrival, Ghost World, and Anya's Ghost. I asked them today what was their favorite book so far and there were a range of answers, but by far the favorite so far overall is Anya's Ghost, and our pretty lively discussion bolstered their claims and convinced me it was better than I had rated it. . ..

Anya's Ghost is a YA (maybe grades 5-8) novel by Russian-American Brosgol. It's the story of a Russian-Ameican girl named Anya that wants badly to fit in. She smokes to look cool, she calls herself Brown instead of her long and complicated Russian name, she avoids Russian-American nerd boy Dima, she wants to lose weight so avoids fatty Russian foods, she is sort of attracted to a hot non-Russian guy. Sort of YA high school world. Echoes of American Born Chinese re: wanting to fit in, being somewhat ashamed of your heritage.

Then Anya falls down a hole and encounters a ghost, Emily. When she gets out of the hole, she now has a (secret ghost) friend who helps her with grades, helps her to dress more fashionably (in order to attract the hot boy), and so on. And even this feels like it operates within an identifiable YA world. Faith Erin Hicks has a ghost in Friends with Boys, and there are many others. Ghosts are part of tween/ YA worlds, of course.

But then things change, and I won't tell you the exact nature of the change to avoid a spoiler, but the book gets better, more interesting, because it gets surprising and . . . creepier. I identify it as "horror" above because it actually does make it from Casper-the-friendly-ghost territory through R. L. Stine territory to something at least approaching Stephen King, for this age group, at least. It's not just Scooby scares, it's a little scary. How did Emily die? What is Emily's stake in Anya's popularity? There's a mystery to solve. And some identity issues to face for both of them, ala YA, generally. Most of the identity issues don't resolve themselves all that surprisingly, but there are some satisfying aspects of the resolution. It's a good read!

I read this a couple years ago and gave it five stars, thought it was amazing, hadn't read anything at this level that was this good, but now, having read a lot more YA Graphic Novels, I rated this down a bit, maybe a 3.5. It's very good, don't get me wrong, and I still like it. Brosgol's comics art for younger readers is accomplished and engaging and fun. And that hot guy? Turns out to be a jerk. But you saw that coming, right? Because you met him yourself in high school, right?
Author 0 books249 followers
October 8, 2020
If you are afraid of ghosts, if a mere thought of them can make you go crazy, I'll suggest not the read the book during night.

Anushka or Anya wants to stay fit, get the most popular guy from school, live a balanced life, to be around friends in this foreign country and when someone makes a poor joke, that's trouble, stay away. But that changes, when she meets a ghost by accident.
Profile Image for Archit.
823 reviews3,227 followers
October 8, 2020

It all appears glossy on the surface, the lives of others.

Scratch beneath and you shall find the truth.

Vera Brosgol does a good work in terms of artwork. The story build up is nice and easy.

From falling down the pit to the empathy of the ghost to total turnaround; I think you learnt a lesson or two till you reached the very end.

The character outlining of Anya was pretty cool and the book kept me interested as to where it was going.

One extra star for the ending and the fluid way of writing (or drawing, I must say).
Profile Image for Jessica.
257 reviews3,580 followers
December 23, 2014
I just really started getting into graphic novels in the past year or so, and so far, Anya's Ghost is my favorite.
I loved the drawings, I thought the story was super engrossing, and really easy to follow (which isn't always the case with graphic novels).

I thought this story was really unique and surprising. I really enjoyed reading about Anya's character. I feel like a lot of teens will be able to relate to her, in one way or another.

I think ANYA'S GHOST is the perfect choice for people who are curious about graphic novels but don't know where to start!
I wish I would have read this a couple of month's ago for Halloween!
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,426 reviews12.7k followers
August 9, 2015
Anya is a teenage schoolgirl with all the usual insecurities about her weight, clothes, friends, etc. compounded by embarrassment over her Russian heritage. She makes an effort to lose her accent, avoid fatty Russian food, and even tells people her surname is Brown instead of her actual lengthy and complex Russian one. Upset after making another social faux pas, she ditches school and heads off to the park, promptly falling down a dry well where she meets the spirit of a long-deceased schoolgirl called Emily. So begins a strange friendship as Anya sets out to discover Emily’s killer.

Vera Brosgol’s comic tackles the familiar theme of alienation, where a teenager with a foreign background is trying to fit into American society as well as deal with the twin minefields of high school and puberty. Books like Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese and G. Willow Wilson’s Ms Marvel are about the same thing. Russian/Chinese/Pakistani characters wanting desperately to fit in but also conflicted about not forgetting where they come from. It’s not surprising given that America is the great melting pot of cultures, the “great experiment”, but what is surprising is how good all of those comics are despite essentially treading the same ground.

Brosgol is a comics natural and her storytelling in this medium is near flawless. The panels flow perfectly leading to a well-paced and very satisfying read. Anya herself is very believably written – I expect Brosgol’s own Russian background fed into her character’s – and very likeable and real too. Like most girls her age, she’s not ugly or fat even though she believes she is. Her vulnerability is endearing and her spiky personality is charming.

Just when I thought Anya’s Ghost was veering a little too close to another “teen girl haunted by a ghost” story, Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys, Brosgol takes things in an unexpectedly dark and exciting direction as Anya discovers the truth of Emily’s past.

The artwork was very attractive with confident lines and is perfectly suitable for younger readers. Anya’s very fluidly expressive figure and face reminded me of the animation in Disney’s Aladdin (which makes sense as I later found out that Brosgol’s background is in animation). The “protagonist falls and is trapped in a remote location and meets a magical being” scene probably had a bit to do with it as well.

As is often the case with comics aimed at younger readers, it is a little didactic but not obnoxiously so. And the message about being proud of who you are and not relying on other people to make you feel good about yourself is a fine one to send to all readers, whatever their age.

If there’s one negative, it’s purely down to me rather than Brosgol: I’ve read a wee bit too many books like this before and I can’t get as excited over it as I have others. If I’d read this before American Born Chinese, Friends With Boys, and Ms Marvel, I’m sure I’d be more enthusiastic.

Anya’s Ghost is an excellent comic. Very well-written and skilfully drawn, told beautifully with strong characters and an entertaining story that readers from age 12 onwards will enjoy. Vera Brosgol is an extremely talented cartoonist whose books I will definitely keep an eye out for in future!
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
733 reviews3,398 followers
January 24, 2023
Coming of age ghost psychosis

A friend who is dead is better
Than no friends. Or, maybe, there may be some tiny, hidden problems lurking in the past. And it may be that soul sisters womances, with 90 years of cultural evolution between them, don´t suffer from the different social norms. Although this would make a great plot device too to contrast and satirize the whole society and stereotype thing. But it´s more a

Combination of ghost story and mental problems
Because instead of the ghost one could see, say, normal teenage troubles that can easily escalate towards eating and anxiety disorders or even psychosis that get triggered by traumatic events, genetic curses, or substance abuse. So the second thought while reading is often how many messages are addressed to growing up girls who

Struggle with their transforming identity and body
And Emily is the perfect compensation for own weaknesses, enabling to instead integrate strength and self confidence. That this could possibly go terribly wrong is the icing on the mystery cake. Although hopefully not many fantasy friends have such dark secrets in their past.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Noelle.
373 reviews247 followers
May 25, 2012
As if it being five o'clock on a Friday of a three day weekend isn't exciting enough, I found a blue library envelope on my doorstep this afternoon with a brand spanking new copy of Anya's Ghost inside. Guys, it is GORGEOUS. I'm talking Golum "my precious" impersonation inspiring gorgeous.

Less than an hour later, I'm at the last page and officially have a new favorite YA graphic novel.

Let's get this out of the way first: Anya Borzakovskaya is awesome. She's got the normal teenage insecurities going on and her desire to blend in is compounded by being a Russian immigrant. She looks around her and sees skinny, blonde and effortless perfection compared to her love handles, cultural heritage and social awkwardness. She's negative and snarky, so focused on conformity she's unable to appreciate the unique aspects of her life and the good things that come with it.

Anya may think her greatest wish is to go unnoticed but in reality she's just looking for someone who can understand what she's going through. She never expected to find that someone at the bottom of a well...in the form of a 90 years past dead ghost of a teenage girl. But does her new best friend understand her as well as she seems? Is assimilation worth giving up autonomy? Are your wants and needs more important simply by having the distinction of being yours?

As I mentioned, it's the Friday of a three day weekend so I'll keep this short, but Anya's Ghost is a real keeper. Brosgol deftly accomplishes so much in so little space. There is an economy of text but an abundance of meaning. The message is wonderful. The illustrations are engaging. The heroine is spectacular. The more I learned about Anya the more I celebrated the differences she despised. I really enjoyed and highly recommend this book.

This review appears on Young Adult Anonymous.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
June 7, 2014
Well this was fun! I loved the art: it was really cute and stylized and awesome. And I really loved the story line: it became creepy and dangerous and that was awesome! However, I can't give it 5 stars because I didn't like the main character.. I was hoping she would grow throughout the story, but she really didn't!

I recommend this graphic novel, peeps! It honestly felt more like a cool comic book! :D
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews201 followers
September 14, 2019
3-1/2 stars
Anya attends a slightly snobby private school where she has precisely one friend, dodges the Russian boy her mother wishes she'd befriend, and coasts by doing as little work as possible. Then, stomping home from school in a snit, she takes a shortcut and falls down an abandoned well -- a well that is haunted by a teenage ghost who's been hanging out alone for 90 years. When the ghost follows her home, Anya seems to have a new friend. But friendships with dead girls can be a little more complicated than Anya would have guessed.
This is an odd little graphic novel that grew on me as I read it. I started off not really liking Anya much, which put me off. So I didn't feel as sorry for her as I maybe should have when she fell down that well and was stuck there for two days. Then I didn't like the ghost much, either -- she's vague and bland aside from her self-pity.

But as I kept reading, and the story grew more interesting, I also found myself liking Anya more, and rooting for her to figure out both her ghost problems and her boy problems (she likes a boy who turns out to be not so admirable).

So this ended up being a cute, well-drawn and well-told story about a disgruntled teenager learning some useful things about dealing with people, both living and dead. I guessed one twist , but it was still well done, and tied in well with another story line, so I didn't mind.

The one plot hole bothering me is why that well wasn't filled in as soon as Anya was rescued from it (and her rescue was a little odd, too; she barely seemed to have been missed). And I'm not entirely sure what age group this book is aimed at. Anya seems to be about 15, but the feel of the story is sometimes a little middle-grade, despite Anya's constant smoking. But those quibbles are not detracting from my general feeling of fondness for this book.

Overall, this made an excellent bit of not-quite-October spooky reading.
Profile Image for Reynita ★ The Night Reader ★.
122 reviews933 followers
December 31, 2018
It was a pretty fun read and I finished reading it in one sitting. Actually, I read this book when I didn't feel fine. I was sick and I was pretty dizzy at that time but I couldn't stop reading it. I was just so curious about the story and I liked it! It was a pretty fun read.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
802 reviews3,763 followers
December 16, 2020
this was so much deeper than i expected

i thought this was going to be a cute graphic novel on a girl befriending a ghost but it's not, IT'S SO MUCH BETTER

- there were some deep messages that we get at the end
- i really liked the shift in tone and plot halfway through the book, i DID NOT see that coming and i was surprised but in a definite good way
- very cute, the art was good, i liked the development of the story
- the ending was done well, wish we got some closure with her and her family and a little more on self acceptance and all that
- the art was ✨exquisite✨
- very emo, very angsty, loved the vibes

3.5 stars
Profile Image for kate.
1,078 reviews915 followers
May 18, 2016
4.5* I really enjoyed this. It was brilliantly creepy in all the right ways, yet it also has an underlying depth and fantastic message to it which I really enjoyed! It flowed well and I really loved the art style! Finished it in under an hour and thoroughly enjoyed it, I can't wait to read more from Vera Brosgol in the future! Such a great graphic novel!
Profile Image for Brina.
876 reviews4 followers
July 31, 2020
My friend Tasha highly recommended this to me. She says it brought back memories of being a Russian immigrant to the United States. Disclaimer- I’m not a huge fan of ya other than a few preferred authors. This is also the first graphic novel I have ever read, and I read it like a comic book in under an hour.

What worked- the author was sincere. The story was a genuine look at an American high school. It felt to me as if Daria’s World was a Russian immigrant and transplanted in the 21st century. So I did reminisce and got a few laughs, especially the gym class scene.

What did not work- I’m just not a fan of ya books or for that matter graphic novels. If I was going to read a ya book, I’d rather read a book of prose, not pictures as I like to imagine everything in my head.

Who would like it- The artwork was exquisite. This edition contains a question and answer with the author at the end and she seems like a well rounded individual. This is a book for teens. It may be a long time before I read another graphic novel. I do think my kids would enjoy this though.

3 stars
Profile Image for Bookteafull (Danny).
342 reviews100 followers
September 27, 2019
Actual Rating: 2.5 Stars

“I don't think murder is an appropriate reaction to disappointment.”

I reluctantly have to agree, otherwise, I'd be feeling pretty homicidal.

Okay. So the artwork is beautiful and Anya's expressions shine right off the page, that at the very least, I'll concede to. I mean, look at this:

This graphic style paired up with the one creepy scene/plot twist is the only reason I rated this as high as I did.

Had the novel's 'Oh shit' moment been a bit more elongated and dealt with in a way that was consistent to the main character, I probably would have rated it at least 3 stars.

But it wasn't, so 2.5 it is.

The story itself was lacking, rushed, and off-putting for a variety of reasons:

1. Blatant Girl-Hating. Why is this a thing I still find myself reading about? Is this concept alluring to readers? Because it isn't to me. Throughout the novel, Anya is petty af and actively talking shit about another girl (Elizabeth) simply because she's skinny, pretty, and in a relationship with her crush. Anya goes out of her way to plan ways in which to lure her crush away from his girlfriend and have Elizabeth visibly heartbroken. Elizabeth, by the way, has been nothing but polite and pleasant toward her. AND THEN the book tries to 'fix this' by having Anya realize that it's not right to treat people badly or be jealous of them because 'you never know if they're struggling with their own problems too.' How about just having her realize it's a dickish thing to do? Regardless of whether or not the person may be struggling with something.

I get what the author was trying to do and this conclusion came about after a realization Anya has regarding Elizabeth's relationship with her crush, but it came off with the implication that it's acceptable to be mean to people who do have their shit together. Like, don't just act like a decent human being when someone is currently struggling with poor mental health - do so every other time as well, thanks boo boo.

2. Slut Shaming. Wow-zah. The casual level in which this was depicted was mind-boggling. Apparently, women can't wear shirts that show off their breasts without Anya and her ghost having a few choice words about it. #yikes.

3. Body Dysmorphia that is never dealt with.

Alright cool. Anya is obsessively focused on her body weight and clearly has constant automatic negative thoughts about her appearance but we're just never gunna talk about it beyond how it relates to her crush. Cool. C o o l.

4. The Men. The guys in this comic all suck - to the point that it comes off slightly unrealistic too. For example, when Anya first falls into a well and calls for help - a wandering goth dude's first reaction is to inquire whether or not Anya is hot, as the answer to this question may influence his rescuing her. I repeat, WTF.

5. Anya herself. She's dislikable. I was not a fan of how she treated her family, nor did I enjoy the fact that she only really turned a corner when they were in a life or death situation. Emily (the ghost) stated it best when she told Anya that she was selfish and self-centered.

I read this book for one of the criteria in the 2018's Read Harder Challenge and it's safe to say that I will not be picking up any more work from this author.

P.S. Emily was the highlight of this graphic novel for me but that's not saying much considering she also participated in the slut-shaming (mind you, it's learned-behavior from Anya but still).
Profile Image for Hersh.
148 reviews413 followers
January 3, 2015
Well, this was quite enjoyable and yet at the same time quite disappointing, I guess.

To start off with the positives, what I really loved about Anya's Ghost is its artwork and colour scheme. I loved how each and every page was in light shades of purple, white and black. I love such gloomy themes.

I don't know what else to add to the positives or the negatives, to be honest because on the whole this was an okay read for me. I didn't like or dislike the characters and the same goes for the story line.

You know something all of us fail to realize? We are awesome as we are. Our biggest flaw is that we try to hide that awesomeness for god know's why! Anya could have been cool and awesome if she didn't yearn to be thin like all the other popular girls and wanted all the good looking guys. Come on, nobody these days fall for looks! Personality matters, Anya.

I still think she looks pretty, both ways.

I don't know why she hated herself, her mom, her friend and people who actually try to be nice to her. Then, she whines that she has no friends and wants friends who are 'popular'. She was extremely hypocritical and boring and had no uniqueness to her.

However, I really liked the Ghost. I feel like the ghost was the only character in this story that actually had some personality. I don't care if its actions were evil or not, this particular character had substance. It advised Anya, it had opinions for god's sake! Anya, on the other hand, had none and was extremely bitter and acted like a cow. A bad one, since I like cows that have four feet.

I didn't really care for the story. It was okay and it left me feeling nothing. I would have liked it to end in a different way, though. I think the only character that left an impression on me is the Ghost. Maybe, I would remember this book because of Anya's ghost and not Anya herself and thank god this book was rightly named!
Profile Image for Xueting.
262 reviews121 followers
February 22, 2016
Very original and innovative story! I was so engrossed I read it in less than two hours, almost one whole sitting. The twist really got me. Anya's a very unique and relatable character who matures in the book. I like how the story shows many sides to bullying- those who get bullied experience it in different levels, some better than others so there forms a hierarchy even among the bullied, while they still think about being cooler. And the popular girls aren't always mean. I love how Anya's culture and immigrant experience shapes her maturity not in an overt and explicit, in-your-face kinda way, so it's believable and really admirable in the end when she sees that she doesn't have to let what others think about her affect her cultural pride and identity. Anya's so interesting anyway, I'd want to be friends with her :)
Profile Image for Ronyell.
956 reviews319 followers
October 20, 2012
Anya's Ghost

Brief Introduction:

After reading so many graphic novels that dealt with superheroes and electrifying bloody action scenes, I finally came across a graphic novel that is aimed at young adults, but actually deals with the more mundane aspects of our lives (or should I say, the more spooky and supernatural aspects of our lives). “Anya’s Ghost” is a young adult graphic novel by Russian born author Vera Brosgol and is also Vera Brosgol’s debut book and it has everything that you would enjoy from any young adult novel detailing a teenager’s angst of going through high school (boys, popularity and GHOSTS!)

What is the story?

Anya Borzakovskaya is not like the other kids at her new private school as she comes from a Russian family and is known as an outsider at her new school. Anya is also embarrassed by her family and tries so desperately to fit in her new school. One day however, Anya accidentally falls down a well and there, she meets a young ghost girl named Emily Reilly who had died centuries ago. At first, Anya and Emily become fast friends, but then Anya will soon realize that having a ghost for a friend is not all sunshine and roses as it seems!

What I loved about this comic:

The story: Wow! This was one unique and spooky story that really made me have a greater appreciation for horror stories (although I already had a huge obsession with those types of stories!) Vera Brosgol has done an excellent job at writing this story as the characters’ dialogues are full of snarky comments which made each character so relatable to the readers. I especially loved the ever sarcastic main character Anya as she is always making comments about how miserable her life is and how she is so embarrassed by her Russian family. Probably my favorite scene in this graphic novel was when Anya has to do the dreaded “Bleep Test” which is where you have to run across the gym and make it to the edge of the gym while a beep sound goes off. This scene strongly related to me because I remembered I had to do the dreaded “Bleep Test” when I was in middle school and it was not fun at all!

Anya's Ghost

But what I really loved about Vera Brosgol’s writing is the mystery and the horror elements in this story. I loved the fact that instead of having your everyday story about a teenage boy or girl trying to make it through high school; you have a ghost story that strongly wraps with Anya’s struggles in fitting in school while Anya herself is trying to solve the mystery of the ghost girl Emily Reilly and her “mysterious” murder many years ago. I loved the idea that Anya actually has a ghost for a friend and it was interesting seeing Anya interact with the ghost girl without being scared. I also loved the way that Vera Brosgol provided so much mystery surrounding the ghost girl as you have to wonder to yourself about why she is with Anya in the first place and what her purpose is for being with Anya?

The artwork: Vera Brosgol’s artwork is truly creative to look at as the coloring of the artwork is mainly in black and white, which truly gives the appropriate spooky feel to the story. The only problem I have with the artwork is that it looks too cartoony for this type of story, which is a horror story and usually when I think about horror stories, I think about realistic imagery. However, I do think that the cartoony artwork really worked well with some of the story’s humor, so it was a good deal for me. I also loved the images of Anya herself as she has long black hair, a chubby figure and freckles on her face that really makes her stand out from the other characters in this graphic novel.

What made me feel uncomfortable about this book:

A little warning: there is some language in this graphic novel, although the language is not really strong and it only appears a few times in this novel, so this graphic novel should be appropriate enough for the young adult audience. Also, the theme about a possible murder in this story might be a bit frightening for readers who do not like reading about death.

~Small Nitpick~

Concerning the ending of this story, I was a bit annoyed at how the book ended since I wanted to see more from the characters in Anya’s world. I will not tell you what happened at the end, but let us just say that the book sort of ended on an abrupt note and you are wondering if there will be another book detailing Anya’s adventures.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, “Anya’s Ghost” is a fantastic book about dealing with peer pressure and the importance of being yourself no matter how different you are from other people. I would strongly recommend this book to any fan of young adult graphic novels and fans who love a good ghost story!

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog
Author 4 books569 followers
September 6, 2015
The really, really short review: I started this book last night. I was happy to get up this morning because I knew I'd get to finish it over breakfast.


The still reasonably short review:

I'm not feeling very eloquent today, so I thought I'd post a transcript of how I sounded as I read Anya's Ghost:

"Oh, shoot – this is due back at the library soon. Better read it..."

"...wait, what does that say? Oh. That's the Cyrillic alphabet. This girl's mom is very old-country Russian. Cute. But now I want to know what that food is, and I can't even sound it out..."

"I'm liking this. I – whoa, okay, that was kind of scary. Ooh – I'll bet she wishes she'd hung on to that 'fattening' food now..."

"Oh, that is such a guy thing to say. What a maroon. Oh, well – at least he helped her."

"Whoa! Wasn't expecting that! This is getting really good."

"That was pretty funny."

"That was really sweet!"


"Okay, this is getting kind of spooky..."



"Aw! What a great ending!"

"Crap. I wish this book had been longer."

Conclusion: Read this book. Srsly.
Profile Image for alexandra.
229 reviews1,510 followers
September 3, 2020

i just started getting into graphic novels and i think they may be my new favorite thing. ANYA'S GHOST was insightful, quick, and a bit creepy.

i love how anya develops throughout the novel. it made me a bit sad in the beginning how embarrassed she was to be from russia and how she'd often get bullied. anya tried so hard to change the way she is, but girl, YOU SHOULD GO AN LOVE YOURSELF. (sorry, i had to. i felt j.biebs right there.) the whole book basically follows how anya changes and realizes that she should be proud of who she is and embrace that.

the story is told an equally adorable (because of the art) and creepy (because of the GHOST) way. there were parts that actually kept me on edge and the plot twist took me by surprise. i liked how short, quick, and to-the-point this book was.

overall, i really enjoyed this novel! it wasn't super life changing or emotional, but still had moments that were heartfelt. i've been in a few reading slumps lately and just figured that graphic novels are perfect ways to solve those slumps, so i'll definitely be picking more up in the future!
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