Ghost World by Daniel Clowes: Graphic Novel Review

Title: Ghost World
Author: Daniel Clowes
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Publication Date: March 1998
Length: 80 pages
Series: Stand Alone
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: Saw the movie

*Spoiler Alert* Although I feel that I am not ruining the book for anyone, I am discussing some of the major themes of this book. If you want to go in blind, skip to the final paragraph. *Spoiler Alert*

From GoodReads:

Ghost World has become a cultural and generational touchstone, and continues to enthrall and inspire readers over a decade after its original release as a graphic novel. Originally serialized in the pages of the seminal comic book Eightball throughout the mid-1990s,this quasi-autobiographical story (the name of one of the protagonist is famously an anagram of the author's name) follows the adventures of two teenage girls, Enid and Becky, two best friends facing the prospect of growing up, and more importantly, apart. Daniel Clowes is one of the most respected cartoonists of his generation, and Ghost World is his magnum opus. Adapted into a major motion picture directed by Terry Zwigoff (director of the acclaimed documentary Crumb), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.  

Rebecca and Enid are best friends and have just graduated from high school. While the two young women figure out what they are going to do with their lives, they spend their time making snarky comments at television shows, following potential satanists around the grocery store, and trying to get the courage to go into a sex toy shop. While Enid and Rebecca continue to enjoy spending time together, they begin to discover that they are growing apart. 

Many friendships don't last forever, and when friendships end, they usually don't end with a bang. Ghost World does a great job of showcasing two young women who were best friends in high school and who are struggling to figure out what their relationship looks like now that they are entering the next stage of their lives. Although there are lots of reasons that I did not connect with Enid and Rebecca (more on that later), the ending of their friendship hit home for me. I have had friends over the years that fit me perfectly for a particular stage of my life; however, when I moved on to a new stage, the friendship could not be sustained. Clowes does a great job of balancing the sadness that the characters felt about the end of their friendship with the characters' subconscious understanding that the breakup is inevitable.

Although I really enjoyed the angst and sadness of the friendship breakup, I was not a real big fan of Rebecca and Enid. Granted, you are not supposed to like Rebecca and Enid. They take advantage of their friends if they can and say mean things right to people's faces. They are the type of people who desperately cling to the idea that they are cooler than everyone and accept that is the reason that they are outcasts when in fact it is their attitudes to keep them apart from others. From some of the reviews that I read on GoodReads, the movie versions of Enid and Rebecca are much more likeable. I saw Ghost World a really long time ago, so I don't remember the film very well. 

Like I stated earlier, this novel is really about Enid and Rebecca growing apart. Each chapter/issue is a day or so in their lives. There is a bit of an arc to each issue, but each issue is a quiet meandering tale. Do not expect a lot of crazy drama, a la The Vampire Diaries (or your teen show of choice). 

Overall, Ghost World is an interesting graphic novel for the right mood and reader. I enjoyed it alright, but I think that I would have enjoyed it more as a late teen/early 20-something year old when I would have related a bit better to the two protagonists. If your interest is at all peaked, I recommend checking it out, because it is quiet short (only 80 pages) and can be picked up anywhere from your library to your local comic book shop.

I give this book a 3 out of 5.

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