Monday, October 19, 2009

Graphic Novel Monday: Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation, by Ray Bradbury and Tim Hamilton

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation, by Ray Bradbury and Tim Hamilton. Published 2009 by Hill and Wang (Macmillan).

Click here to buy Ray Bradbury's Fahreheit 451: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation, via I'm an IndieBound affiliate.

Ray Bradbury's famous novel Fahrenheit 451, originally published in 1951, is a standby on high school reading lists, a book about the power of literature to educate, enlighten and expand one's experience of the world and of life. It is also an indictment of mass media, especially television. In the novel, people see stories only in visual form- in pictures still or moving. Ironic then that Bradbury authorized the retelling of his story in graphic novel form.

That story concerns Guy Montag, a "fireman" who starts fires rather than fights them- fires that destroy books. He meets a young woman named Clarisse who leads him to ask questions; eventually he starts collecting books in his home until he's discovered. Tim Hamilton's noirish artwork is arresting and very appropriate to the oppressive, hopeless atmosphere, but overall the book just didn't work for me.

Too much of Bradbury's writing is missing; boiled down to graphic novel form, the narration is mostly gone and what's left is mostly just dialogue. It was too much like reading a script and not enough like reading a book. I had a hard time paying attention and frequently put the book down- and it was very hard for me to pick it back up. And though the art is very accomplished, it just wasn't enough to hold my attention. The last graphic adaptation I read, of Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, was similarly unsatisfying despite being incredible visually. I wonder if the graphic novel form isn't really right for adaptations- if the form is just better suited to original storytelling, where the words and images are designed to work together from the start. There are lots of great things in the graphic novel section of your local bookstore or library but I'd pass on this one if I were you.

Rating: BORROW

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher.