My Favorite Things: Graphic Novel Adaptations and Complex Characters

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, a weekly column where we gab about the greatest in geek. This week, we have two fabulous books for you to check out. One is a brand new graphic novel adaptation of a sci-fi classic. The other is the second book in an already award-winning fantasy trilogy. If you’re looking for some seriously high quality stuff, then these two would be a great place to start.


 

Sharon’s Favorite Thing is… Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation!

What’s better than finding out that one of your favorite books in being made into a movie? Finding out that it’s being made into a graphic novel! This month my favorite thing is the new graphic adaptation of Octavia Butler’s groundbreaking 1979 novel, Kindred. Inked by illustrator John Jennings (Blue Hand Mojo, Black Kirby) and adapted by Damian Duffy (The Hole, Kid Code), Butler’s groundbreaking and arguably most famous novel comes alive visually.

Part heart-breaking slave-narrative, part science fiction time-travel tale, Kindred tells the story of a young black woman who finds herself transported from California in the seventies to a Maryland plantation before the Civil War. Dana, the novel’s protagonist, struggles to understand what’s happening to her and why, all while trying to stay alive as a black woman in the antebellum South.

Although some of the panels are more graphically sparse than I would like (particularly during conversations between Dana and her husband Kevin), the artwork really comes alive when Dana travels back in time, perhaps an artistic choice by Jennings and Duffy. And there’s always the problem of having an artist’s depiction of one of your favorite characters challenge the one you’ve always had in your head. (#NotMyDana) But my biggest concern — that the adaptation would fail to pull out what I loved most about the novel — didn’t materialize. This is Kindred boiled down to its essence and illustrated beautifully. If you’ve read Kindred, buy it. If you haven’t, buy both!

 

Nancy’s Favorite Thing is… The Obelisk Gate!

This past month, I finally got around to reading The Obelisk Gate, the second book in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy, following The Fifth Season. For reasons that are obvious to anyone who’s read The Fifth Season, I knew, going into the book, that Jemisin couldn’t handle the narrative structure in the same way that she did in book one. Given that was one of my favorite parts of The Fifth Season, I was curious to see if I would end up liking the sequel as much. And fortunately, I did! The world of The Obelisk Gate is a harsh one, where the Earth itself rebels against its people, plunging the world into irregular “Fifth Seasons,” marked by dangerous tectonic activity that can last for centuries (or more).

I know that comparing a fantasy series to Game of Thrones is beyond cliche at this point, but I did come out of this book thinking that it would be a fitting follow-up to the HBO juggernaut (they have to be looking for another epic fantasy show, right?). Much like Game of Thrones, the characters here are rich, complex, and drawn in the darkest shades of gray. You can’t help but feel for them. They may do terrible things, but the longer you spend in this flawed world, the more you see how they’ve ended up this way.

The Obelisk Gate is a highly satisfying work of epic fantasy. Not only did I end up thoroughly enjoying it, but reading it has really cemented N.K. Jemisin as one of the most reliable writers in fantasy for me. After seven books, she has yet to disappoint me. I can wait to see what she does with book three of this trilogy, The Stone Sky.


Any thoughts on the selections above? Let us know in the comments.

2 Comments

  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier February 13, 2017 at 8:21 am

    I am really curious about this graphic novel version of Kindred. I’ve read the novel a couple times now and have found it to be really powerful. I’ll have to pick it up.

    Reply
    • Shara White February 13, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Me too. I’ve got this in my Amazon cart already. I had NO idea this existed!

      Reply

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