The title of this series is a bit misleading. From the sounds of it, it should be about a girl that’s friends with a lot of boys and lost hopelessly in a sea of romantic problems. Instead this book is about a girl that’s friends with her brothers and haunted by the spirit of a woman who died in the nineteenth century. It’s become one of my favorite stories of the year and I look forward to re-reading it yearly as it has a timeless classic feel to it, but will secretly hope that another volume will follow eventually. Its Maggie’s first day of school… ever. She’s starting high school after being homeschooled up until this point in her life. She’s a nervous wreck, but excited at the same time; that is until she sees a family photo. Maggie was homeschooled by her mom, but when she was enrolled in high school her mom up and left the family. Now her dad, the town’s sheriff is left to raise Maggie and her three older brothers: Daniel, Lloyd and Zander (the twins). Maggie asks if her brothers will walk to school with her, but they decline saying it’s a rite of passage that they all had to go through. Nervously Maggie leaves for school… alone. She cuts through the cemetery on her way and is startled by the ghost that’s haunted her since she was a child. She yells at the ghost and tells her to go away because she can’t bring a ghost with her on the first day of school, but then as she’s leaving she asks the ghost to wish her luck.
At school Maggie freaks out and begins thinking of her days with her mom. She gets to the point where she gives up and heads outside. Daniel comes up to her and checks in with her. She vents on him proclaiming that she can’t do it. Daniel reassures her and helps her to class and reassures her once more. Slowly but surely she gets the hang of school and even makes a few friends along the way.
When you have a large graphic novel the thing that is the most important is the pacing. If the story drags or the scenes become long-winded for the sake of page filler then it can be unbearable for the reader. The single greatest thing about this story is the pacing. It has the perfect flow of fast and slow and I ended up reading it in one sitting and within thirty to forty minutes at the most. The characters are charming and memorable. Maggie is the coolest and cutest girl who probably never went to your high school; she sure as hell wasn’t at mine as I still have to explain what Alien the movie is to people of both genders.
Hicks’ story is well-balanced with great character development and while it has a great conclusion, it’s left open for the story to continue. The mystery of the ghost and Maggie’s mother are long running themes that can play along with Maggie’s development as she continues to learn how to socialize.
The art is very impressive and Hicks’ style is the perfect fit for the plot. With the first page I was hooked on her art style. The page layouts are creative and make the story visually gripping. Hicks does a fantastic job of telling the story as much visually as she does with the story and dialog. The characters facial expressions and body language make them come to life off the page and gives them real personality. The last thing that is impressive about the art is the background detail. Each panel is consistently detailed and gives the book a great consistent look, but also makes the town and school come to life. Maggie is awesome and worthy of being plastered on T-Shirts and fan tattoos.
This book was incredible and really stayed with me after reading it. The other incredible thing it did was make me want to read more and more. In fact I read two more graphic novels right after this one because I was amped after this story. I really hope that there is another volume because I’m dying to continue the characters story. It may sound a bit weird, but this book is my new Scott Pilgrim. Sure they’re very different genres and styles of storytelling, but it has that timeless feel to it that makes you want to read it over and over. Do yourself a favor and buy this book, it’s worth it and is sure to show up on my personal picks for the end of the year.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Faith Erin Hicks Publisher: First Second Price: $15.99 Website: Firstsecondbooks.com and you can read a preview on their site as well.