The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

Candlewick. Jan. 2021. 240p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781536213010.
Gr 9 Up–Timed to coincide with the public domain debut of The Great Gatsby, this atmospheric adaptation translates the high school staple to graphic novel format. Nick Carraway takes up residence next to mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby on Long Island. At a lavish party at Gatsby’s estate, Nick learns that during the Great War Gatsby fell in love with Nick’s cousin Daisy Fay, who now lives across the bay. While Gatsby was deployed, Daisy married the well-heeled Tom Buchanan; upon returning, Gatsby made his fortune as a bootlegger to rekindle Daisy’s affections. Their affair ends when Tom exposes his nouveau riche rival’s misdeeds at a hotel. Driving home, Daisy inadvertently kills Tom’s mistress with Gatsby’s car, and Tom’s mistress’s husband soon shoots Gatsby. Nick leaves New York following Gatsby’s sparsely attended funeral. Rather than rendering “an exact literal interpretation of the novel,” Woodman-Maynard aspires to “capture the mood” of the work. Though her medium can’t help but slough off some narrative nuances, differences are largely unobjectionable. Pacing, for instance, ticks a tad faster, chronology shifts slightly, and a suicide and anti-Semitic overtones are omitted. Synesthetes will delight as the Roaring Twenties come alive in mellifluous watercolors informed by both period ephemera and pure imagination. As visual metaphors wash over the page, fascinating experiments with figure and ground toggle between surrealism and pitiless reality. Snippets of text blend paraphrase and direct quotation, and key lines—the sort found in study guides—appear verbatim.
VERDICT Like other graphic novelizations of canonical works, this adaptation explicitly intended to serve an auxiliary role stands as its own immersive accomplishment.

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