Book Review: The Pretenders (Cemetery Girl #1) by Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden

I loved the Sookie Stackhouse series, and have been getting into graphic novels, so I was excited to check this out.

Cemetery Girl Book One: The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris and Christopher GoldenCemetery Girl

Published: January 7th 2014 by InkLit

Source: local library

Synopsis (Goodreads): She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill—names taken from the grim surroundings where she awoke, bruised and bloody, with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or who left her for dead.

She has made the cemetery her home, living in a crypt and avoiding human contact. But Calexa can’t hide from the dead—and because she can see spirits, they can’t hide from her.

Then one night, Calexa spies a group of teenagers vandalizing a grave—and watches in horror as they commit murder. As the victim’s spirit rises from her body, it flows into Calexa, overwhelming her mind with visions and memories not her own.

Now Calexa must make a decision: continue to hide to protect herself—or come forward to bring justice to the sad spirit who has reached out to her for help…

My thoughts: I wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did. I’m trying to become for knowledgable about graphic novels now that I’m in charge of purchasing them for the library, so I’ve been on the look out for ones that pique my interest. Since I love the Sookie Stackhouse series, I thought this one would be a home run for me. Alas, I found the story lacking, even if the art was enjoyable.

Cemetery Girl—who chooses the name Calexa Rose Dunhill—finds herself in the cemetery with no knowledge of who she is. She only knows that someone tried to kill her, but failed and left her for dead. She crashes funerals and steals food and newspapers from two kindly elderly people, then witnesses a ritualistic murder in the cemetery and is possessed by the soul of the victim.

The story felt completely amateur. It was all telling, no showing, and very repetitive. I found it to be derivative and rather boring. Perhaps I just wanted more nuance. Perhaps I would have enjoyed a third person perspective, rather than the first person narration from Calexa’s point of view. But still, there are holes in the plot: a cell phone that stays charged and is used without be traced by authorities? Come on. That destroys to believability right there.

The art was interesting, and I liked the change in perspective and the details included. It was also quite easy to read, and would be a good introductory story for those just testing the waters in graphic novels.

I might check out the rest of the series, just to see if the story gets more depth. I enjoyed the art enough to continue. Ultimately, I found this series opener a disappointment.

Recommended for fans of: Urban fantasy who want to give graphic novels a try, but are bored with straight adaptations of novels. I’d say it would be a good fit for fans of Buffy’s continuation as a graphic novel, but I don’t think it had the punchy dialogue or plot twists I’ve found in Buffy.

I’m hoping that Coffin Hill, which is coming out in trade paperback from Vertigo Defy, will be better in terms of story.

Second opinions:

The Canon: “‘m not sure I’m a convert to graphic novels, but I am intrigued. The Pretenders was a pleasant surprise with an intriguing plot, strong main character, and a good set up for the next books in the series.”

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