When a teen wants a graphic novel, what do you recommend? In our library, the teen graphic novel collection is fairly limited, so I generally recommend that teens spend some time pulling books off the shelves and browsing through them to see what they like. If they insist on a recommendation, though, and especially if an adult is looking for things to bring to a teen who isn't there to speak with me, these are the books I recommend:
- Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. This is a manga-style story that follows two students, both transgender-identified, as they sort through their identities and make their way in the world. The innocent, almost playful tone makes this book very accessible even to the graphic novel novice.
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. The Ender series has been turned into a series of graphic novels, and I recommend these to teens who enjoy action movies or books with lots of action and a fast-moving plot. They can be read alongside or independently of the Ender novels.
- Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang. These books follow the history of the Boxer Rebellion, one from the side of the boxers, and one from the side of the missionaries. The pair of books was really eye-opening to me and taught me about both sides of this conflict.
- Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. A female superhero who is also not white! It's a miracle! Honestly, though, this is a great series, and I highly recommend it both to fans of superhero comics and to those who like stories with strong female characters.
- Trashed by Derf Backderf. This book is part fiction, part nonfiction, The fictional story is the tale of a man who begins working as a garbage collector. The nonfiction part contains facts about the way our garbage is dealt with once we bag it up to be hauled away, as well as information about landfills, recycling, etc. It's an interesting look at an unusual topic.
- Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I love Nimona. I loved the art, I love the humor in the story, I love the characters themselves. I loved the way this story poked fun at typical superhero tropes. This is a great graphic novel that could be enjoyed even by teens who claim not to like graphic novels.
- March by John Lewis. Mostly historical / autobiographical, this is the story of the march on Washington to call attention to the racial difficulties our country was (and still is) facing. Historical information in a very digestible format.
- Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. This book is good even for younger teens, as it avoids some of the graphic fantasy violence of superhero novels or adult themes that are apparent in other graphic works.
- Good Neighbors by Holly Black. Who doesn't love a good Holly Black story? This trilogy is no exception, and the fantastical elements in this story are wonderfully imaginative.
- Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen. The geeks face off with the popular kids in a timeless tale of high school rivalry, now with robots.
What graphic novels do you gravitate toward when recommending books to teens?