Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel. by Hope Larson. October 2, 2012. Farrar Straus & Giroux.. 392 pages. ISBN: 9780374386153

When I first heard there was going to be a graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, I was excited. I have always enjoyed seeing visual representations of characters I have previously only imagined. That’s why I loved the Baby-sitters Club graphic novels, and why series like Fables appeal to me so much. They give me a glimpse into just one of the many ways fictional characters are imagined by readers.

Hope Larson’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time tells the same story as the Newbery-winning novel, almost to the letter. Meg Murry, who feels plain and average, finds that her flaws are the strengths needed to save her father and little brother from a being called IT, who wishes to control the thoughts and feelings of every being on its home planet of Camazotz. With the help of unusual characters like Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, the Happy Medium, and Aunt Beast, as well as handsome basketball star Calvin O’Keefe, Meg sets off on a journey that only she can complete. Every memorable moment of the story is represented, and I only felt the need to compare Larson’s adaptation to the original book one time - when Charles Wallace first mentions Mrs. Whatsit. There is a brief exchange about her that is missing - right before Meg says she doesn’t like the wind - and I did notice its absence. I don’t know that it was a completely necessary exchange, especially given the visual format of the book, but leaving it out made the transition from one page to the next awkward in just that one spot.

Larson’s artwork, too, is almost perfect. I love the way she uses three combinations of the same colors to convey different types of scenes. Scenes happening in the here and now, in our concrete world are mostly white, with black lines and blue backgrounds. Flashback scenes have the same colors, but they are inverted, so the backgrounds are white and the figures are blue. Scenes in darkness, or in places where the characters cannot access their senses normally, the background is black and the lines are blue. For the first few chapters, my mind was so attuned to the story, I didn’t even consciously notice these changes, but when I did, I found them very impressive and helpful for keeping my place within the story.

I had some issues with the way Mrs. Which and Aunt Beast are depicted. It would be impossible and foolish to suggest that there was a right or wrong way to draw either of them, as I think every reader’s vision of those characters is personal and dependent upon our own imaginations. I think my problem is with seeing them drawn at all. In Larson’s illustrations, Mrs. Which looks like a bald pegasus, and Aunt Beast like a mop with Raggedy Anne’s hair and a Fraggle’s body. In my imagination, these beings are much more ethereal, and much less likely to have any definite shape. By drawing them with definite shapes and features, Larson takes something away from the power of the story. Obviously, for her to adapt the novel she would need to draw these characters, so I don’t fault her in any way for doing so. I just think there are some parts of this particular novel I would have rather kept on imagining my own way without someone else’s ideas creeping in. That is always the one drawback of adapting novels to visual media.

A Wrinkle in Time is as good a graphic novel adaptation as anyone could have done, and I appreciate Larson’s faithfulness to the original story, and her mostly minimalist approach that still allows the reader the pleasure of imagining his or her own version of Camazotz. I would never recommend reading this graphic novel in place of the novel itself, as I think L’Engle’s original is far superior. Rather, I would recommend reading this book afterwards for the sake of comparison, and for the fun of seeing how Larson imagines these beloved characters.

I borrowed A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel from my local public library. 

For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat.

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