By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)
An anguished ghost seems to be comforting a young woman who is holding a skull in her hands. How am I supposed to NOT want to read a graphic novel with such an intriguing cover? Plus, the title is “Archival Quality” – a phrase meant to signify something that withstands the test of times, which doesn’t deteriorate easily. Intrigued even further. And the icing on the cake was the fact that this book by Ivy Noelle Weir and Christina Stewart (Illustrator) was available to me for free as part of my Kindle Unlimited library subscription. Yep, clicked ‘download’ without batting an eyelid.
The story follows Celeste Walden, a 20-something librarian who gets fired from her job after experiencing a mental health crisis. Instead of taking a break or seeking help, the protagonist takes up a new job as an archivist in the Logan Museum. In an interesting twist, the new job comes with an apartment in the Museum building itself, where Celeste moves in. However, she soon discovers that she is being haunted by a spirit that seeks her help.
Let’s discuss the artwork first. Since the illustrations are very simple, I assumed both the writer and illustrator were the same person (as is the case with quite a few graphic novels), but the story is by Noelle Weir, while the illustrations are done by Christina Stewart. The art was slightly reminiscent of a few shows that would air on Cartoon Network in the early 2000s. While Noelle Weir manages to build significant suspense over the haunted strange museum, her characters aren’t very interesting and eventually the plot turns out to be mediocre too. Maybe going with a different illustrator would’ve helped in making “Archival Quality” more memorable, but neither the story, not the artwork is particularly worth remembering.
Celeste as the principal protagonist behaved like an angry little teen, instead of the independent young woman she is supposed to be. She has bizarre outdated ideas about ‘mental health’, which would have only made sense if this story was taking place in the 1970s, but Celeste lives in the world of cellphones and wifi but yet thinks seeking help for mental health issues means being put away in an asylum. What even…?? The only likable character in the book is her boyfriend, who she is unnecessarily mean with. The only other two characters that appear in the book are half-baked, I mean I literally finished reading this book an hour ago and cannot even recall their names.
To the creators’ credit, they managed to keep me interesting in the novel until the end, so just for that I am going to be generous with the rating.
It’s a 3 on 5 from me.
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