Book List

7 Awesome Illustrated Novels

September 17, 2022
Sarah Jane Abbott
Riveted Editorial Board

I’m just gonna say it: I like my books with pictures.  If kids can have awesome illustrations throughout their books, why can’t we?!  Luckily, there are lots of books out there for grown-ups that incorporate art in fun and exciting ways.  Here are some of my favorite books to read—and look at the pictures.

Forest Hills Bootleg Society by Dave Baker and Nicole Goux

Set in 2005, this gorgeously illustrated, funny, and honest graphic novel follows four teens who stumble into an illicit anime DVD-burning business that shakes up their conservative small town…and their friendship. This quirky tale about a hilarious cast of characters and their bootleg anime business is a must-read!

Draw the Line by Laurent Linn

Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background at his Texas high school.  He feels most comfortable expressing himself through art, crafting a secret world for his own Renaissance-art-inspired superhero, Graphite.  But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be.

The book features sections that are Adrian’s Graphite comics.  BTW, Graphite lives in a giant palace on the moon.  Seriously what could be cooler than that. (Go check out the extended excerpt of Draw the Line now!) 

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

After Andrew’s whole family died in a tragic car accident, he started living at the hospital, blending in to near invisibility and hiding from his grief and guilt.   His only solace is in the world of the superhero he’s created—Patient F.  Then one night, Rusty is wheeled into the hospital, badly burned by hateful classmates.  As their relationship develops, Andrew finally begins to have hope for the future.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, he leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Junior’s quirky and poignant drawings are spread throughout the novel.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

The artwork in this novel is absolutely magnificent.  The book is very heavily illustrated, so it’s almost like a mash up of a novel and a 533 page picture book for adults.  Seriously, just read it.  You’ll be amazed.

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. When Wallace Warland transfers to her school, Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this book is unique and innovative.

The Year of Beasts by Cherie Castellucci

Every summer the trucks roll in, bringing the carnival and its infinite possibilities to town. This year Tessa and her younger sister, Lulu, are unchaperoned and want to be first in line to experience the rides, the food . . . and the boys. Except this summer, jealousy will invade their relationship for the first time, setting in motion a course of events that can only end in tragedy, putting everyone's love and friendship to the test.

The novel alternates chapters of prose and comics by the talented illustrator of the MARCH series.  Also, I mean, look at that cover.  Enough said.

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