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5 incredible graphic novels to read this summer

Graphic novels can be expensive to invest in. They're quick reads and many are serialized, so you're often left with a burning impatience for the next book in the series, or an empty bank account from buying ten issues at once.

But fear not! Here are five graphic novels that are either stand-alone stories or a collection of shorter works. With captivating illustrations and absorbing stories, these books are perfect for an enthralling summer read.

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura

This is the story of Barbara Thorson. She's an anti-social fifth-grader who likes D&D, knows baseball history and, as she announces at the beginning of the novel, kills giants. Barbara's only concern is protecting herself and her town from the giants that threaten it and she rejects the peers and teachers who have no interest in her role as a defender. Set in the real world, I Kill Giants begins to blur the line between reality and Barbara's imagination as the threat to her town becomes increasingly imminent and Barbara's past is revealed.

Spinning by Tillie Walden
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Tillie Walden's graphic memoir tells the story of her coming-of-age years as a competitive figure skater. Beginning with Walden's family moving from Texas to New Jersey, this novel explores how, like many preteens and teenagers, Tille has to navigate her relationship with her parents, tentatively begun friendships and her sexuality. But unlike most, she also has to deal with early morning practices, lonely days in hotel rooms and the pressure to be the best skater. Spinning paints a beautiful picture of the world of competitive figure skating and demonstrates how, between the stress and preparation, it offers rare moments of calmness and stability to a girl whose world is changing.

Nimona by Noel Stevenson

If you're looking for a fantasy story with schemes, dragons, sharks, and explosions, then this is the book for you. It follows Nimona, a free-spirited shapeshifter who becomes the sidekick of the villain Lord Ballistar Blackheart. Together, Nimona and Lord Blackheart set out to expose the true intentions of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics and show the kingdom who the true villains are. But as Lord Blackheart gets better acquainted with the extent of Nimona's powers and their origins, he begins to suspect that the Institution may not be their biggest problem.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

This book is the perfect blend of laugh-out-loud humour and reflection on what it means to be an outsider. In it, you'll meet Jin Wang, the only Chinese-American boy at his new school; the Monkey King, who wants to be a god; and Danny, who has to change schools every time his embarrassing cousin comes to visit him. While these stories may seem unrelated, American Born Chinese does a magnificent job of bringing them together through a surprising twist ending.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

For five sinister stories about journeys through the woods, read this graphic novel. Carroll delivers five macabre folktales with unusual page designs, including her popular webcomic His Face All Red. Whether it is a figure in a wide-brimmed hat, a voice through the walls, or a "man-shaped thing" in the cellar, Caroll's stories feature chilling elements of gothic horror with morbidly beautiful illustrations. It's perfect for a nighttime read - as long as you don't plan on sleeping.