I really love graphic novels. I think they can be a great way to tell a story and a useful tool for younger readers who might be intimidated by pages and pages of unending text. It’s also a fantastic way to show off beautiful art and can, in some instances, do a better job telling a story than just the words alone. So I’m always eager to read graphic novels, whether intended for children or adults.
The Lost Boy, at least in my library system, has been classified as a children’s book but after reading it I’d definitely recommend it for older children. It’s about two boys separated by several decades. Nate, the present day character, has just moved into a new house. He’s not happy about the move but is allowed to choose his own room where he quickly finds old tape recordings from Walt, our other main character. Walt lives with his grieving, bitter father and both are struggling to deal with the loss (abadonment, not death) of Walt’s mother. Walt is recording his thoughts as a coping mechanism when he begins to notice strange happenings around town. Nate, along with new friend Tabitha, begins noticing similar phenomena after hearing the tapes. The forest surronding the town plays a large part in the story, as do strange toys, talking insects and decades old secrets.
Overall I enjoyed the story but felt that it suffers from a common problem with graphic novels, particularly juvenile ones: a plot that moves too quickly with not enough depth. Walt’s story progressed better since we discovered with him some of the weirder elements of the story (a talking cricket, a living doll, a sweater-vest wearing squirrel, etc.), whereas with Nate we just dive right in- it seemed that the heroes were off to fight the big bad guy within about 10 pages of meeting for the first time. Granted, it’s a children’s book and a graphic novel so it will be moving fast but that doesn’t mean it has to give up depth (for a really great example of a children’s graphic novel, see Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series).
The Lost Boy does have some really incredible art and that helps with some of the deficiencies in the story. Greg Ruth has created incredibly detailed, black and white illustrations that manage to remain interesting and convey unique characters. I get very frustrated with graphic novels sometimes because I feel that the artwork is considered secondary to the dialogue which results in poorly drawn characters and simple to nonexistent backgrounds (The Walking Dead comes to mind). I only wish they were in color.
There’s plenty of room open for a sequel at the end (of course) and hopefully, if there are sequels forthcoming, a greater depth will be added to the story line. This wasn’t the best graphic novel I’ve ever read but it’s an entertaining read and I’ll be looking for any future additions.
For more information on Greg Ruth, visit his official page here. Lots of artwork!