Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book Review: Les Miserables (Graphic Novel) by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables (Graphic Novel) by Victor Hugo and TseMei Lee

Graphic Novel Adaptation
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Release Date: 12th August 2014
Read Date: 27th July 2014
Tagged under: book review, 2014 read, manga or graphic novel, review copy, historical
Buy At: Amazon

Les Miserables - ageless classic

Adapted from stage and screen, loved by millions, Victor Hugo's classic novel of love & tragedy during the French Revolution is reborn in this fantastic new manga edition! 
The gorgeous art of TseMei Lee brings to life the tragic stories of Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, and the beautiful Fantine, in this epic adaptation of Les Miserables!

Book Review [Spoiler-Free]

Udon Entertainment is starting a new Manga Classics line, turning some of the most famous ageless classics into graphic novels. So I selected a couple to try and I began my experience with Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

As a graphic novel, the artist, TseMei Lee, transitioned the European classic into the world of Japanese manga beautifully. The art is very pretty, even by manga standards, and Lee has clearly put a lot of effort into the whole work, even paying careful attention to the backdrops. I wish the ARC I read has high quality images so I could show you exactly how beautiful the artwork is!

As a book adaptation, I think the manga stayed relatively true to the original tale. Obviously, like any adaptation, it can't contain all the details of the novel. A lot of the back story and details are glossed over and condensed into a few short panels. However, for any newcomers to this classic, I think this manga adaptation contains just enough information for the reader to follow the story and doesn't inundate them with too much information overload. 

However, this work is not without its faults. As a new medium to Victor Hugo's novel, it tries to bridge a gap that is perhaps too wide to be bridged. For a manga, some of the panels are a bit too over the top for it to be a smooth read. The facial expressions and body language are just too over dramatic, like an actor/actress who has over-acted his/her role in a film. For a novel, it doesn't, and perhaps can't, translate all the nuances and finer details of the novel, which may leave readers who love the old classic disappointed.

Overall: 3.5/5

Overall, Udon Entertainment has created a work that tries to merge the West with the East. While its attempt is beautiful and well-crafted, I couldn't help but feel a bit confused as to who this work is targeting. If its manga readers who they want to sway into reading the classic, voracious manga readers may find certain faults with how the story is told. For classic readers that they want to taste a bit of manga, the readers may be disappointed with the many details that have been left out of the manga. But overall, I did enjoy this work somewhat. 

Disclaimer: a complimentary preview was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The views expressed above are entirely my own and are in, no way, affected by the source of this book.

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