Format: Graphic Novel (Adaptation of Richelle Mead’s series of novels) – Book 1.
Colour
Publisher: Razorbill
Created by Richelle Mead
Adapted by Leigh Dragoon
Illustrated by Emma Vieceli

Adaptations are tricky! The world is littered with enough examples of trans-medium adaptations that for want of a better word suck! If something works well on one medium adapting it to a different medium is by no means a guarantee that it still going to work. This is not to say that there are no decent trans-medium adaptations, because there are and there are some good ones too. The Watchmen easily springs to mind. But unfortunately these tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

I don’t like to beat around the bush (unless it’s the kind that surrounds pleasure portals) so to make it clear, I have not read Mead’s novels. So I’m judging this book on its sole merits. I consider this as equally positive and negative because on the one hand I’m not biased by the book, but on the other reading the graphic novel I couldn’t shake the feeling that I missed some things.

The book focuses on Rose Hathaway a Dhampir (half-vampire/half human) who is at St. Vladimir Academy training to become a bodyguard for her princess besty Lissa who is a Moroi (the good vampires). The Moroi are currently threatened by the Strigoi (evil vampires). In a nutshell it’s another teen-adult oriented highschool-vampire thingy.

Reviewing this book is hard for me, because while I can easily acknowledge that under all the girly teen gushiness there is a good story here, I didn’t enjoy reading it. My biggest issue is that although I can’t confirm this, my impression is that Dragoon (overseen by Mead herself) was reluctant to stray from the original to play to the new medium’s strength. As a result the whole graphic novel feels like a lazy summary of the source material.

The pacing seems off. Almost throughout the whole book nothing noteworthy really happens, and when interesting stuff does occur it happens so swiftly that most of the time I was left trying to fill in the gaps as to what actually happened. While the premise seemed interesting enough at first, I soon discovered that any promise initially shown was not delivered upon. Which is a shame because a few action scenes would have benefited the story greatly. But instead the book focuses on boring dialogue which is almost constantly punctuated by narration/reflections from Rose, thus killing any sense of flow.

Emma Vieceli’s illustrations are just about the only things I managed to enjoy from this graphic novel. Having no preconception of the characters I enjoyed the way she fleshed them out. The style is vivid, neat and colourful, and considering how the story is almost completely devoid of any action, Emma did a wonderful job coming up with different ways to keep the visual side interesting. Her panel work is great and the emotions of the characters really come out neatly.

In conclusion if the purpose of the graphic novel was to pique new interest in the novels and to squeeze more money from the pockets of the fans of the novel, than I guess it succeeds, but as a stand alone graphic novel it leaves a lot to be desired!

Reviewed by Chris Le Galle

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