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Graphic novels exist in the same sphere as picture books: they both use text and illustration to create a cohesive story, and they both require a certain understanding of how visual narratives flow across the page. With the added length in pages, though, graphic novels stand apart as a unique way to show and tell longer, more complex stories to an audience that appreciates visual storytelling as much as textual (ie picture books for older audiences!).

Here are my favorite graphic novels published within the last 10 years for young adults:

Anya's Ghost
Written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol

When Anya falls down a well, the last thing she expects to find is a century-old ghost. And the very last thing she expects is for that ghost to become her only friend. But life never goes according to plan, and Anya discovers a new flexible self as she navigates making friends and surviving middle school.
As the Crow Flies
Written and illustrated by Melanie Gillman

Thirteen-year-old Charlie Lamonte is queer, black, and questioning her belief in God. Needless to say, things get uncomfortable quickly when she agrees to spend a week at an all-white Christian backpacking camp. Will she ever find someone who understands her point of view?
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil
Written and illustrated by Stephen Collins

Everything on the island of Here is orderly and neat until one man's unstoppable beard gives him and the citizens of Here a new perspective. If that sounds intriguing enough, then I suggest you pick the book up. I don't want to say anymore about the story since it's fantastic and unexpected in every way.
Lighter Than My Shadow
Written and illustrated by Katie Green

Katie has always been a picky eater, but as she grows up and enters high school and then college, she finds herself continuing to struggle with body dysmorphia and anorexia. Based on the true story of author Katie Green's battles during her formative years, Lighter Than My Shadow is a raw, honest, and deeply self reflective graphic memoir about struggling to understand oneself and learning how to seek out help and recovery.
March
Written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

This trilogy is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. Beginning with his initial desire to enact change all through President Obama's inauguration, readers experience the uphill battle Lewis and his comrades had to fight in order to achieve the rights they deserve.
Nimona
Written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter who wants to be a villain, so when she finds super villain Lord Ballister Blackheart, she's determined to be his sidekick and prove that heroism is overrated. But what starts as small vengeance turns into something much larger as Lord Blackheart discovers that Nimona isn't who she claims to be.
Persepolis
Written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi

This autobiography tells the story of Marjane growing up in a large family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. Through boarding school, living at home, and her ultimate self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland, readers journey with Marjane as she struggles to understand the actions of her country.
Scott Pilgrim
Written and illustrated by Bryan Lee O’Malley

The epic six-book tale of one guy's quest to win the heart of the girl of his dreams by defeating her seven evil exs.
The Shadow Hero
Written by Gene Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew

In the 1940s, the Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero. The comic had a short run before lapsing into obscurity, but Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew revive the character and create an origin story for the Green Turtle full of action, vengeance, and heart.
Shattered Warrior
Written by Sharon Shinn and illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag

Eight years after Colleen's home is invaded by aliens and her entire family is slaughtered, Colleen receives news that her niece Lucy is still alive and decides to join a revolution to save her. But how does Colleen know who she can trust?
The Spill Zone series
Written by Scott Westerfeld and illustrated by Alex Puvilland

Addison provides for her sister by selling her illegal photographs of the mysterious and deadly Spill Zone, but when she gets an offer that's too good to refuse, Addison takes a risk that might be one step too far. Not to mention, her sister is definitely up to something and far less innocent than she seems.
Spinning
Written and illustrated by Tillie Walden

Ice skating is a central part of Tille's identity, acting as a safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But soon it loses its sparkle and and she begins to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fits into her life. As it’s a graphic memoir, we get an in-depth and relatable look at what it means to her to accept and share the more intimate parts of herself with others, including her sexuality.
The Lunar Chronicles series
Written by Marissa Meyer and illustrated by various artists

This graphic novel series spinoff takes place in the same world as The Lunar Chronicles, a young adult novel series also written by Meyer. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko, an android, decides to hunt down every last one. But as old enemies –– and surprising allies –– keep popping up, Iko begins to question her own humanity.

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