By Sam King
This graphic novel is charming and pleasant to look at. I love its exotic location, the fantastical elements, and the way it is simultaneously simplistic and complex. It addresses major themes and abstract concepts in a spectacular way. This one really struck some chords with me, and I found myself thinking about it and making connections between elements within it long after I finished reading it.
The Girl in the Himalayas is about a little girl named Vijaya. The home she lives in with her parents is set on fire for unknown reasons by a group of men and both her parents perish. Vijaya is left to die, but a mystical being named Prasad decides to save her and give up immortality. He takes her to a hidden sanctuary where he takes care of her. Another mystical being and protector of the sanctuary, Vasu, is worried about Prasad’s decision to bring a human into the sanctuary and is reluctant about having Vijaya around.
The artwork in this graphic novel is beautiful. It is simple and adheres to a color scheme of white, black, and a peachy cream. It is also incredibly expressive despite having a seemingly limited color palette. Generally, the art appears minimal, which plays off of the simplicity of the story. Vijaya is drawn out very adorably, and the style comes across as childish, yet sophisticated, at the same time.
While there are heavy themes, such as death, sacrifice, and choosing your own path in life, the presentation of them is very simplistic. The deaths happen quickly to start things off, Vijaya sacrifices her old life, and she grows in the sanctuary with the influence of the mystical beings and animals around her. There is a lot of discussion about auras and human-driven destruction, but at the center of it all is the innocence of Vijaya. She does not fully understand the severity of humanity or why she is treated a bit differently to start with, yet she tries to bridge the gaps between herself and Vasu. She is caring and sweet and untainted. Vijaya appears to be a source of hope and positivity that could grow to stand against the negative auras within the world. The characters are well developed, and each was very distinct. They are intriguing, and it is not hard to see why Vijaya accepts or rejects each character or group that she encounters along her journey from loss of a home to finding a new home.
I believe that this is a graphic novel with broad audience potential. I think kids could read it and enjoy it, even if they don’t necessarily understand the weight of the themes yet. Adults could get a lot out of it too, as well as people who have an appreciation for the art medium in general. It appears very light but has a lot of depth to it and layers that you can peel back to understand more over time. I think this is also a story that can be revisited several times.
I really liked this graphic novel, and I would definitely recommend it. It is a gem that deserves to be shared, with a message that needs spreading. To me, it was a celebration of childhood innocence and human potential. It captures the way our environment can affect and influence us as we grow while making you think about the impact that you are having on the world around you. This is one I would encourage others to give a try. There is a lot to love about Girl in the Himalayas. It looks simple, but the more you think about it, the more there is to uncover. This would be a perfect book to have for group discussions or reading clubs and for highlighting the potential of the medium to convey deep themes and messages.
A Girl in the Himalayas