Book Review: "Twilight the Graphic Novel Volume 1"
Setting aside the hype that surrounds the movies and it's young stars, at it's core the Twilight Saga is about the books. When Twilight first came out, those who read the book experienced something that most readers look for and don't often find, the feeling that in their hands was something unique, something special, something that had never been done before. Of course I am in no way saying that Twilight is the best novel ever written, although I'm sure some fans would disagree with me. What I am saying is that Twilight offered readers an wonderful experience. The experience of a mature, well-written story that takes a plot that's been recycled over and over and through an author who uses their unique imagination it is changed into something special, something unexpected with characters that become real to the readers.
When the news that Stephenie Meyer's beloved Twilight novel was going to be adapted into a graphic novel by Korean artist Young Kim hit the internet, I'm sure gasps of excitement and a chorus of applause could be heard around the world. I'm not going to lie, as a hardcore fan of the Twilight Saga novels myself, I joined them. Twilight the Graphic Novel would give fans a chance to re-experience the feeling they had when they brought Twilight home the first time. It was said that this illustrated adaptation of Twilight would show the characters and scenes not the way the movies have depicted them, but more like the author herself imagined them when she first wrote Twilight. It would give fans an insight into Stepehenie Meyer's mind and a new way of looking at the story and the characters apart from the movies.
When I brought Twilight the Graphic Novel home a few days ago I felt that familiar sense of anticipation tingling in my fingers as I opened the book. It was a happy feeling. The cover was vivid and beautiful. When I first saw Bella I was surprised. She was drawn as being much more beautiful than I had imagined her when reading the original book and before Kristen Stewart ever portrayed her. That was alright though as Bella is described in the novels as being unaware of her own beauty. The book started off well, with Bella Swan leaving sunny Phoenix for the overcast greenery of Forks, Washington. The drawings of Bella's schoolmates were well done and very fitting. As fans, one of the moments we would be anticipating seeing illustrated would be Bella's first day at school when she first sees the mysterious Cullen family sitting by themselves in the cafeteria. It would be our first glimpse of the other-worldly beauty of the characters who would become so important as the saga developed, and of course, our first look at Edward Cullen in all his illustrated glory. If you think you detected a touch of sarcasm in that last statement you would be correct. My first look at the Cullen's was…underwhelming. Edward's foster sister Rosalie was the only one whose looks I thought stood out as comparatively exceptional. The fact that I actually had to double-check that Edward was even in that illustration tells you how much he did not stand out. Even in black-and-white, a man whose beauty is described as being able to pierce a person through and induce speechlessness should immediate capture the attention of the reader. A person whose inhuman beauty would therefore be impossible for a human to portray (even though Robert Pattinson does quite well in his attempt) should be able to be brought to life through artistic interpretation. Instead of feeling the impact of the character visually jumping off the page, I was left with a profound disappointment that such a multidimensional character remained flat and ordinary.
The original story was adapted well with lovely illustrations that complimented the developing plot very nicely conveying the gaining momentum of the story as well as the emotions of isolation, anguish, frustration, vulnerability and hesitant hope that Bella Swan feels as described in the original book. The sequences of action that take place in Twilight were rendered well and I found the illustrations that focused on Bella's face to be especially captivating. The artist put the focus squarely where it should be, which is on Bella Swan. she is the center of the Twilight saga and it is where the focus stays.
One of the complaints about the movie adaptation of Twilight was that the development of the story seemed rushed. Bella and Edward just met and suddenly they were in this serious relationship, in love with each other, but it didn't make sense how they got there. Even though it was decided to break up the graphic novel into separate parts, I still felt that the story was being rushed. Things seemed to start moving quickly in an unnatural fashion like they had felt the need to start moving things along for no particular reason. In the original Twilight novel Stephenie Meyer beautifully weaves together a story that moves as naturally as breathing from beginning to end. And while it is fantasy, the unfolding of the story makes absolute sense. I found that ease and balance missing in this first part of the adaptation. It is possible however that when the second part of the graphic novel is added, that sense of balance will be found.
One scene in particular that was drawn beautifully was the one that fans wanted so badly to see but that was done so badly in the film: the meadow scene. Stephenie Meyer's dream of this scene is what inspired her to write Twilight and therefore it has a special place in the heart of fans. This is one of the few sections of the graphic novel that is done in color and it was very fitting that the use of color was saved for this part. The beginning of this scene starts off in black-and-white and I really liked that as they get closer to the meadow itself the more color is used. By the time Bella, illustrated in full color, steps out into the meadow which is green with the sunlight streaming through the trees, you feel that sense of anticipation you felt when you first read this scene in Twilight. I loved that in the illustration Bella does exactly what she does in the book: she turns to Edward with her hand held out to share the experience with him. I'm not going to go into the "sparkle" effect except to say that I found it disappointing. But seeing the meadow scene illustrated was very satisfying especially considering that this was bungled in the movie. Besides using our imaginations this would be the only way we would get to see this scene developed visually. I really loved the way this pivotal scene was handled and there are some very poignant moments depicted that will touch fans of the saga.
Considering the elements of the graphic novel that were done well and those done not so well, overall I was pleased with this adaptation and I'm really looking forward to seeing Volume 2 of the graphic novel released and continuing to look at Twilight through new eyes.