THE ADVENTURES OF JOHN BLAKE, a Graphic Novel Mystery

Mystery Month 2017Lynn: The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship (2017), comes courtesy of Philip Pullman and represents his first foray into graphic novels. Written originally as a comic and then as a film script, Blake has just now been published in the United States.

After a storm knocks her overboard her family’s sailboat, teenager Serena Henderson is rescued by the strange crew of the Mary Alice, an old-looking sailing ship that appears out of the fog. As it happens, the Mary Alice is a ghost ship traveling through time, as well as the focus of intense searches being conducted by a multimillionaire, the British intelligence service, and a maritime organization.

The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip PullmanMysteries abound aboard and ashore. Who is the young sailor, John Blake?  How does the Mary Alice travel through time? What happened during the ill-fated experiment, carried out mid-ocean in 1929, involving John Blake and his father? Why does corporate tycoon Carlos Dahlberg want John Blake captured? Can anyone ever go home again?

Pullman’s story is cinematic, filled with breathless suspense, danger, nifty fight scenes, and fog-shrouded mystery. Illustrator Fred Fordham’s energetic style and fast-moving panels carry much of the action, often in wordless snapshots. Occasional half- or full-page scenes prove very impactful. By the book’s end, some—but not all—of the mysteries get solved, with enticing questions still dangling. I ate this up in one gulp, intrigued and captivated. The biggest remaining mystery for me now: Will there be a volume 2? I need a clue, Mr. Pullman!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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