Graphic novels are hot in libraries, and they should be; the blending of innovative artwork with intriguing story-telling can make for an irresistible reading experience. Here are some recent graphic novels that are based on traditional novels — some have been adapted by the original authors themselves, while others are the culmination of creative work by new author and illustrator teams…
Alex Rider, Eagle Strike: The Graphic Novel, by Antony Johnston, illustrated by Kanako and Yuzuru, from the original story by Anthony Horowitz — Teen superspy Alex Rider faces a pop star bent on world destruction and a lethal group of assassins in graphic novel adaptations of two of his thrilling adventures. “These effective graphic novel adaptations of the fourth and fifth installments in the “Alex Rider” series immerse readers in Alex’s world” (School Library Journal).
Animal Farm: The Graphic Novel, adapted and illustrated by Odyr, from the original story by George Orwell — An adaptation of George Orwell’s political satire in which the animals take over running the farm but find their utopian state turning into a dictatorship. “While Orwell’s classic 1945 novella is a specific satire of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union under Stalin, this skillful adaptation highlights the relevance of Orwell’s warning to stay vigilant against the gradual erosion of freedom and to resist leaders who preach equality but demand absolute fealty” (Library Journal).
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, adapted by Ari Folman, illustrations by David Polonsky, from the original diary by Anne Frank — An adaptation of the diary penned by Anne Frank, a girl whose family was in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. “The whimsical nature of Polonsky’s illustrations, which play upon Anne’s active imagination during her time in hiding, are unexpectedly moving; though we never lose sight of the gravitas of Anne’s story, these forays into fantasy, which show Anne escaping from the harsh present into a future that will never come, serve to remind us of the truly human face of genocide” (Booklist).
Batman, Nighwalker: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Stuart Moore, art by Chris Wildgoose with Cam Smith, from the original story by Marie Lu — This graphic adaptation brings to life the dark mysteries behind the gates of Arkham Asylum. Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and 18 year-old Bruce Wayne is next on their list. “The artwork is almost entirely black-and-white; yellow highlights indicate danger, making action scenes pop and subtly highlighting otherwise innocuous objects. Bat-fans will find no shortage of hooks to grab their attention, while the central mystery is a fun cat-and-mouse game in itself” (School Library Journal).
The Giver: The Graphic Novel, adapted by P. Craig Russell, illustrated by P. Craig Russell et al, from the original story by Lois Lowry — Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives. “The artwork, rendered in blue pencil and grayscale, perfectly depicts Jonas’s stark, dysfunctional society, and the measured introduction and brief glimpses of color keep readers hopeful for a brighter future. This stunning work will introduce The Giver to a brand-new audience and will also delight longtime fans” (School Library Journal).
The Great Gatsby: The Graphic Novel, illustrated by Aya Morton, text adapted by Fred Fordham, from the original story by F. Scott Fitzgerald — A graphic adaptation of the tragic story of the wealthy Jay Gatsby and his attempt to win back the love of Daisy Buchanan. “Fordham (To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel) retains much of Fitzgerald’s singular prose, which Morton (His Dream of the Skyland) illustrates with an eye toward period detail and restraint that blossoms into expressive tableaus of vivid color at key moments” (Library Journal).
Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, assembled by Gris Grimly, from the original text by Mary Shelley — Retells Mary Shelley’s classic tale of a monster, assembled by a scientist from parts of dead bodies, who develops a mind of his own as he learns to loathe himself and hate his creator. “The text…reads smoothly, without the abrupt cuts that mar some adaptations. Purists might frown, but the cover alone is sure to catch the eye of budding horror fans who might otherwise pass over the original” (Booklist).
The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel, art and adaptation by Renée Nault, from the original story by Margaret Atwood — Set in the near future, America has become a puritanical theocracy and Offred tells her story as a Handmaid under the new social order. “Nault draws with precision; most piercing throughout are her affecting use of color and scale. She adds softness when Offred recalls her past, with less-saturated colors for happier memories and the thickened, darker lines for the repetitive nightmares. With Atwood’s announcement of a sequel, The Testaments, in 2019, fans may find Nault’s vision to be an ideal refresher” (Booklist).
Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel, by Jason Reynolds, with art by Danica Novgorodoff — As Will, fifteen, sets out to avenge his brother Shawn’s fatal shooting, seven ghosts who knew Shawn board the elevator and reveal truths Will needs to know. “Far more than just an illustration of the events of the novel, Novgorodoff’s iteration powerfully cultivates the tone and mood of its source material, demonstrating just how effective and artful comics can be. This can easily stand on its own, but read in concert with Reynolds’ novel, it will illuminate the story and its important themes with even more depth and empathy” (Booklist).
Star Wars, Lost Stars, Vol. 1, art and adaptation by Yusaku Komiyama, from the original story by Claudia Gray — Sharing a love of ships and an admiration for the Empire, childhood friends Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree enroll in the Imperial Academy in hopes of realizing their dream of joining the fleet. The more they learn however, the more their loyalties — to the Empire and to each other — are put to the test. “Manga-style illustrations enhance action-packed scenes with full-page explosions and magnified views of ships and gadgets. Komiyama gives the story a decidedly intergalactic feel, enlarging its scope with artwork that spills out of the frames” (School Library Journal).
A Thief Among The Trees, script by Nicole Andelfinger, art by Sonia Liao, story by Sabaa Tahir and inspired by her Ember In The Ashes series — While not a direct adaptation per se, this original graphic novel is a a standalone chapter in Tahir’s ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ mythology, revealing an early tale of Elias and Helene at Blackcliff. “This prequel explores the far-reaching experiences that shaped the main characters of this wildly popular series. It will introduce the world of ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ to a brand-new audience and also delight longtime fans” (School Library Journal).
Wonder Woman, Warbringer: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Louise Simonson, illustrated by Kit Seaton, from the original story by Leigh Bardugo — Diana risks exile from her land of warrior sisters to save Alia Keralis, a Warbringer–a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy–as both face an army of enemies determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. “Well-paced and funny, where this adaptation stands out is in the illustrations that show people of color in a nuanced way. Readers need not have read any other Wonder Woman stories to enjoy this one” (Kirkus Reviews).