by Nick Tapalansky
Illustrated by Anissa Espinosa
Published on October 10, 2017 by First Second
Genres: Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Young Adult
Greg has lived in Lancaster his whole life. The town's always had its quirks, and being born without a shadow means he's counted among them. When Greg discovers an old mansion in the woods just outside of town, he didn't expect to meet a smart, beautiful, funny, and...very dead teenaged girl named Eleanor.
Yeah. He's in love with a ghost.
And before he knows what's happening, Greg finds himself at the wrong end of a history lesson when the town's past, and his own, threaten to pull the two of them apart permanently!
From acclaimed comics writer Nick Tapalansky and phenomenal newcomer artist Anissa Espinosa, Cast No Shadow is a teen romance with humor and heart.
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Cast No Shadow is not only the first graphic novel I’ve ever read, but also the first I’ve ever reviewed so it was an interesting experience all around. We have Greg, a teen dealing with family troubles, a friend who has more going on in her life beside him, and suddenly a ghost in an abandoned house near town.
I think what sold me on this book was that the protagonist is a bit awkward, a bit unusual (he doesn’t have a shadow), but very real. Greg is dealing with things in his life that I can imagine many others have gone through. His father is dating someone new after his mother passed away and he feels that his father is trying to replace his mom. His friend is starting to date someone he doesn’t get along with and it’s causing conflict between them. He’s crushing on someone. . . who’s a ghost.
Okay, that one might not be as “real.”
The paranormal aspect of this book also gave it an unusual twist. Greg doesn’t have a shadow. There’s a ghost. There’s a bit of otherworldliness going on as the story progresses. And yet I never felt that this book lost its touch with bringing the story back to Greg and his internal conflicts, represented through some of these supernatural elements.
I did feel like Greg’s best friend, Layla, was a bit of a flat character. Her main course of action was to hit things, which she proves over and over but isn’t really given more than that. I understand that she’s not the main character but she played a fairly large role in the story and I just wanted a bit more.
There was just enough world-building through some of the dialogue (and the illustrations, of course) that I felt like I could have gone to Lancaster and see the giant hairball or stepped into the old Turner home, but not too much where you’re stuck reading a massive chunk of text setting the scene.
In terms of the illustrations, they were all black and white (I’m not sure if this is the norm or not so I’m mentioning it anyway). I wasn’t actually a huge fan of the drawing style. It wasn’t bad by any means and definitely captured the story, just not something that drew me in. I definitely stuck around more for the plot itself and the characters.
Overall, for my first graphic novel, I really enjoyed Cast No Shadow and it’s convinced me that I definitely need to check out more books in this medium. I’d love to see more from this author too! This book is listed as young adult but I can definitely see it appealing to middle grade readers as well. Certainly a book I would recommend!