YA Graphic Novel Starter Guide

YA Graphic Novel Starter Guide
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In 2020 I’ve been reading a lot more graphic novels. In the past couple of years, YA graphic novels have blown up and have become super popular again, which is honestly amazing. I absolutely love reading Graphic Novels, so today I wanted to share some of my favorite YA graphic novels that I’ve picked up and loved recently! 

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman 

This is one of my favorite graphic novel series of all freaking time. I first discovered this graphic novel through bookstagram when I saw a few bookstagrammers who live in the U.K. talking about Alice Oseman, her books, and her new graphic novel. I instantly new that I wanted to read it and picked up a copy. Alice Oseman writes and draws this series herself, and it follows two boys, Charlie and Nick as they fall in love. This is a contemporary romance series and if you love books like Red, White and Royal Blue or TV shows like Love, Victor, then I really recommend picking up this graphic novel. 

SYNOPSIS: Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?  Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner… 

Fence by C. S. Pacat (Writer), Johanna the Mad (Illustrator), Joana LaFuente (Colorist), and Jim Campbell (Letterer)

I recently discovered this new graphic novel series and soon became obsessed with it. Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to expect when I was told I should read Fence… I mean how cool can fencing be? (I apologize to anyone who loves Fencing, but I had never really watched the sport and had no idea really how cool it was until I read this graphic novel series.) However, I had heard amazing reviews about it and first picked it up at the beginning of this summer. I am so glad that I did. This graphic novel series is so much fun. It follows a small fencing team and their struggles, romances, and personal stories. I just really love how funny and romantic it is. To me, this is a great graphic novel series that kind of reminds me of the Foxhole Court series by Nora Sakavic. It is a great contemporary, sports romance! 

SYNOPSIS: Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama… Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges. From acclaimed writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad.

Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige and Stephen Byrne (Illustrator)

This graphic novel is a part of the DC Icons series, where popular YA Authors were asked to write a graphic novel centered around a popular DC character and what they were like as a teen. (I also recommend picking up RAVEN by Kami Garcia, which is a part of the DC Icons series.) I love Danielle Paige’s writing and romance so much in her books, and this graphic novel was no exception. This is such a fun story about Mera, Auquaman’s girlfriend. I loved seeing her side of the story because so often we only really hear about Auquaman. If you love DC comics, or want to get introduced to the DC universe, then this is a great graphic novel to read. 

SYNOPSIS: Princess Mera is teenage royalty and heir to the throne of Xebel, a penal colony ruled by the other not-so-lost land under the sea, Atlantis. Her father, his court and the entire kingdom are expecting her to marry and introduce a new king. But Mera is destined to wear a different crown…. When the Xebellian military plots to overthrow Atlantis and break free of its oppressive regime, Mera seizes the opportunity to take control over her own destiny by assassinating Arthur Curry—the long-lost prince and heir to the kingdom of Atlantis. But her mission gets sidetracked when Mera and Arthur unexpectedly fall in love. Will Arthur Curry be the king at Mera’s side, or will he die under her blade as she attempts to free her people from persecution? An astonishing graphic novel that explores duty, love, heroism and freedom, all through the eyes of readers’ favorite undersea royalty. From New York Times best-selling author Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die) and artist Stephen Byrne comes a Mera and Aquaman origin story that explores Mera’s first steps on land, and her first steps as a hero or villain, forcing her to choose to follow her heart or her mission to kill.

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag 

I first read this graphic novel last year and fell head-over-heels in love with this graphic novel. This is a beautiful graphic novel following a boy who, in a world where men are shape-shifters and women are witches, is born with magic and wants nothing more than to be a witch. This graphic novel discusses gender roles and the idea of gender as well as discussing familial traditions, family dynamics, friendship and so much more. This is such a heart-warming coming of age story that I recommend to everyone. This is a great graphic novel for Middle Grade and YA readers alike. 

SYNOPSIS: In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge 

Similar to The Witch Boy, this is a great graphic novel series that is good for both YA and Middle Grade readers. Two young boys who were switched at birth, the human boy being raised as the Fae king, and the Fae Prince being raised as human. This is a really cool, innovative, fantasy graphic novel. I always love reading anything to do with Fae and hidden magical worlds, so I really liked this book from the very beginning. This is a great coming of age book that discusses friendship, family, and self-confidence. 

SYNOPSIS: Edmund and the Childe were swapped at birth. Now Edmund lives in secret as a changeling in the World Above, with fae powers that make him different from everyone else—even his unwitting parents and older sister, Alexis. The Childe lives among the fae in the World Below, where being human makes him an oddity at the royal palace, and where his only friend is a wax golem named Whick. But when the cruel sorceress Hawthorne takes the throne, the Childe and Edmund realize that the fate of both worlds may be in their hands—even if they’re not sure which world they belong to.

Lara Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (Illustrations)

This is one of my favorite graphic novels, and I think that it is beautiful and powerful in every way. The artwork alone is absolutely beautiful, and the story talks about so many important topics on top of discussing heartbreak, relationships, and what it’s like to fall in love. I just really adored the writing in this graphic novel and the characters were so well crafted. Honestly, I have nothing bad to say about this graphic novel and can only say over and over again how much I really loved it. This is an incredible LGBTQ+ contemporary romance graphic novel and if you haven’t read it, then I really recommend picking this one up!

SYNOPSIS: Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend. Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden 

If you love Science Fiction, then I really recommend picking up this graphic novel. This is a really innovative, beautiful, powerful story about a group of young teens in space. This graphic novel was written so well, the plot is so fast paced and fun, and the characters were so well crafted and thought out. And the artwork… the artwork! It is absolutely gorgeous! This book has amazing LGBTQ+ representation and I really recommend reading it! Even if Science Fiction is not really your thing, I would recommend this book because it was such a beautiful read. 

SYNOPSIS: Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As new member Mia gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. Soon, though, Mia reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.  An inventive world, a breathtaking love story, and stunning art come together in this new work by award-winning artist Tillie Walden.

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