Book Reviews: #CYBILS2023 YA Graphic Novel Finalists

Tuesday seems like a great day to enjoy Graphic Novels, yes?

Yeah, you’re right. ANY DAY is an awesome day to dive into graphics.

So let’s do it!


In Limbo
Deb JJ Lee
First Second Books
Nominated by: Kristen

Tamara @ Bookish Things -The art in this is so gorgeous. It’s pretty much all in blue and gray tones, but the artist puts such an amazing amount of detail in some of the panels that it’s a bit breathtaking. The author does an amazing job at maintaining the pacing of their life. As an outsider, you can see that there are good things about Deb’s life as she travels along it, even though she can’t. And you see that even though Deb thought other peoples’ lives were “perfect”, they were also struggling with issues as they went through high school.

I think this would be a great read for anyone who doesn’t know what they’re going to do with their life while they’re in high school. But, as I mentioned from the start, the reader will need to approach with caution if they are experiencing mental health issues as some of the events may be triggering.

Kristen @ GoodreadsIn Limbo is truly a story about discovering where your passions lie, struggling with mental health and dealing with a mother who tries to be supportive but also is harsh. There’s a lot in this book and many triggers such as suicide attempts and child abuse along with a lot of racism. I really felt this book through the brilliant illustrations. This is a true story/memoir and you can feel the passion put into the work.


Jasmine Walls, illustrated by Teo DuVall
Levine Querido
Nominated by: Charlotte

Jo @ GoodreadsBrooms is a unique story with characters you will pull for throughout the story. The art is simply amazing on every page. Even though this is fantasy there is much light shed on history.

NextGen Librarian @ Goodreads – A queer YA historical-fantasy graphic novel perfect for fans of The Fast and the Furious! This book shone a light on history that we don’t talk about enough and used witches and magic to tell it. So much diversity in this one. I’m here for it. CW: racism, lynching, trauma, systemic oppression

Tamara @ Bookish Things – If you like historical fantasy with great art, then this is for you! The illustrations were beautiful and the world-building of the magic system was fun. I do wish that there was a lot more though. We get small glimpses into the lives of the women outside of the racing scene, enough to know that they are a diverse group that are trying to make it and somehow manage to find each other to help discover who they are.

I liked the other racers that they came across and want to know more about them too, like the older women dressed up as fighter pilots. This could be a world explored several times and I’d definitely pick up the series.

The Faint of Heart
Kerilynn Wilson
Greenwillow Books
Nominated by: Maria Marshall

Tamara @ Bookish Things – The artwork reminded me of The Giver, where everything is in black and white for everyone except the main character and that is the person who contains all of the feelings. June is a bright splotch of color against the droll background of the rest of the world. I say droll, but there is a lot of detail in the backgrounds that seems faint, but once you start looking, you notice that there are things in the gray and white.

I feel like this work could be helpful to teens who are going through an intense wave of emotions of all varieties. I know that some teens may feel like they’d be better off without emotions after things like a breakup or a friendship dissolving, but I think this book helps show that feelings, even the ‘bad’ ones, are necessary as a part of life. They help you grow.

Elizabeth @ Goodreads – A bit sci-fi, some speculative fiction, and also a cautionary tale of morals and how feelings and emotions relate to how we behave in life. It somewhat reminds me of movies and stories years ago about people in institutions that were given drugs to dull their emotions and feelings. The ending was satisfying for the protagonist and her friend. It opened my mind about what we expect of humans in regard to hiding emotions and not feeling in general.

Anne @ Goodreads – This story is gorgeously illustrated and was very moving to read.

The Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel
Antonio Iturbe, illustrated by Loreto Aroca, Salva Rubio (Adapter), Lilit Thwaites (Translator)
Godwin Books
Nominated by: Becky L.

Richetta @ Cocoa With Books – The illustrations are dynamic. The dark and muted colors that are used throughout most of the book contrast with the warmer and brighter panels that are connected to Dita when she was still at home with her family. Red is used throughout to signify immediate danger and or extreme fear. The Epilogue information is very interesting. It helps provide additional information for some of the mysteries like those surrounding camp leader, Freddy Hirsch. A perfect book for anyone interested in learning about history.

Elizabeth @ Goodreads – Wow! The true story in graphic novel version of a book written by Salva Rubio. It was very engaging, quick moving, with excellent illustrations. I found so many details that were in images that tie well with history. In the appendix there is also a history of the major characters in the story and some photographs. 

Jo @ Goodreads – devastatingly powerful graphic novel

Deborah @ Goodreads – A beautifully illustrated graphic novel version of the novel. While it doesn’t do a true deep dive of the actual novel, the story itself is straight forward. Only thing that would prevent me from including this in my MS library is the illustrations of the selection process, due to their graphic nature. Otherwise, this is a GN I would highly recommend.

Lost in Taiwan (A Graphic Novel)
Mark Crilley
Little, Brown Ink
Nominated by: Melissa Fox

Tamara @ Bookish Things – I’ve heard that Taiwanese people were very friendly and helpful from a friend who went there to study Chinese and also teach English and this story shows that his experience isn’t a singular one. I liked that Paul went and experienced the city with someone who guided him with a positive light. Paul did flub once by calling Peijing’s prayers and rituals “exotic,” but she was quick to correct him that just because he didn’t understand something, didn’t mean that it was “exotic” or “abnormal.” That is something to think on when you see another person’s culture in action. It was a fun, quick read. Though, I do wish some of the artwork was less sketchy and crisper, especially some of the architecture of Taiwan.

Elizabeth @ Goodreads – Stunning scene and landscape illustrations. Even without the story, I enjoyed the images. Spent time figuring out if he started with analog illustrations, then it seems the characters are digital. Whatever his process, he ended up with a book that was beautiful to see. The story was interesting, and seemed to fit the YA genre well. I think relationships and finding the bigger world than where you grew up is something most young adults would find engaging. 100% on the illustrations for sure!

The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (A Graphic Novel)
Deya Muniz
Little, Brown Ink
Nominated by: Kate Mccue-Day

Jo @ Goodreads – Romantic comedy, true love, mistaken identity and of course grilled cheese on buttered bread. This book is not only entertaining, it is beautiful.- I loved the beautiful dresses and the surprise ending. The grilled cheese aspect was a little silly, but read the author’s afterward and it makes sense.

Kristen @ Goodreads – Such a cute romance 🥰 I loved the made up world with lots of cheese names and how people could still own a Nintendo switch but ride in carriages and wear beautiful dresses. Loved that little moment honestly. I’ll be looking for more from this author.

Tamara @ Bookish Things – This was such a fun read and I loved the art. 5 out of 5 stars

Unaccompanied: Stories of Brave Teenagers Seeking Asylum
White, Tracy
Street Noise Books
Nominated by: Rosemary Kiladitis

Elizabeth @ Goodreads – It opened my eyes to the plight of teens who need to leave their country and brave the big world to find a safer and happier life elsewhere. 

Kristen @ Goodreads – Heartbreaking stories of kids seeking asylum.