Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation

Bradbury, Ray. Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation. Illustrations and letters by Tim Hamilton. Introduction by Ray Bradbury. New York: Hill and Wang - Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009. Print.
[Book cover credit:]

"It's fine work. Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn 'em to ashes then burn the ashes. That's our official slogan."

In a world of fire-proof buildings, all that's left for firemen to do is burn. They hunt down the owners of personal libraries and burn their books. Without books, society watches the walls, parlour walls that show passive and faux interactive programming all day. Everyone watches the same shows, everyone has the same opinions, everyone falls in line.

I have a confession to make. I've never read Faherenheit 451. I know that makes me a bad book lover, bad librarian, and possibly even a bad person. I've known this for a while, and still I haven't read it. Maybe if I had, I would have liked this graphic novel adaptation better.

For a sparse book to become a graphic novel, with even less text, things must be cut. Unfortunately, the lack of dialog between the characters was coupled with really dark illustrations that didn't exactly show everything that was being left out in the text. Don't get me wrong, the illustrations were amazing. They were mostly in shades of blacks and grays with bright splashes of orange; the threat of fire was always present. The only frames that were free of the darkness and the orange flames were those picturing Montag and Clarisse. Unfortunately their interactions were so brief and curt that I didn't particularly care that she was, clearly, Montag's way out of the life he had built for himself. Worse than that, I couldn't understand why her death affected him so much. This lack of understanding or empathy made it hard for me to follow him through his life-altering decisions thereafter.

The one big highlight for me was Bradbury's introduction. It was beautiful, moving, and reminded us all to pick one book to memorize should books become contraband. His writing at the opening of this graphic novel has inspired me to go find a copy of the original novel. His writing style seems more to my taste. Maybe once I've (finally) read it, I'll appreciate the graphic novel adaptation more.

For some positive thoughts on this book see Natalie's review at This Purple Crayon.

Book source: Philly Free Library

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

I will have to take a look at this. I loved the book in high school, but it's a bit of a challenge for middle school readers.