Graphic Novel Review: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne/Stacy King

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne / Stacy King

Publication: March 31st 2015 by Udon Entertainment

Format: eBook Pages: 308

ISBN13: 9781927925331

A powerful tale of forbidden love, shame, and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. Faithfully adapted by Crystal Chan from the original novel, this new edition features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee (Manga Classics: Les Miserables) which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tragic saga of Puritan America. Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing. – Goodreads 

I went into this graphic novel without having read (or heard of) The Scarlet Letter. I was interested in the idea of a classic book translated into images and short dialogue. A part of me felt like this was bloody awesome, especially for those who avoid most classics due to heavy prose, but another part of me thought the format and style would mean compromising a large chunk of the original storyline.

The story begins with a mob of Puritans discussing Hester Prynne’s crime of adultery with a mysterious man who has left her with a baby, and that’s the basis of the entire plot. I felt like the graphic novel gave me a SparkNotes version of the original. The story was easy to read; it’s about 300 or so pages, and I finished it within an hour, so that’s a plus and one of the reasons why I’m up for discovering more classics like this.

I enjoyed the story itself. You get an idea of Puritan values and the way people behaved (hypocritically) towards sinners. The mystery behind Hester’s love is a little obvious to the reader but I wasn’t penning this down as a mystery novel, so I didn’t mind that. I was more interested in the development of society’s behaviour towards Hester and her daughter, Pearl.

I was mostly impressed by the illustrations, especially the drawings of Pearl, who looked freaking ADORABLE.

Some of the illustrations were just epic, I mean look at the snake in the image below! The art captured emotions and reactions beautifully through the characters’ expressions.

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The downside was that there wasn’t a lot of detail in the text and the dialogue, as expected, was cut very short. You won’t get the same understanding and experience of this classic from the graphic novel alone. I felt like a lot of background information was left out, for example, it doesn’t go into a lot of detail about Hester’s relationship with the mysterious man. You don’t learn about how they met or any other details about how they fell in love.

If you’re looking for a quick and light version of a classic novel, I would recommend giving this a try but if you’re interested in digging deep, analysing the book and exploring various themes and ideas, pick the original classic instead.

I received a copy of The Scarlet Letter from the publisher for an honest review.
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