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Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter Softcover Paperback – March 31, 2015
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"I can say that it made me want to pick up The Scarlet Letter and actually give it a second chance. This manga was a super quick read, but one that was emotional and intriguing. I couldn't put it down until I was done! " - NetGalley.com
About the Author
Crystal S. Chan is an award-winning author and television screen play writer. Â She holds a degree in language and literature. Crystal is a huge fan of authors such as Jane Austen and she is equally passionate about Sailor Moon. Her passion for classic literature combined with her love of the comics medium allows her to strike a solid balance between preserving the depth of the original content while adapting the language for a younger generation.
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I've been a fan of Hawthorne since college, but I'll be the first to admit that his prose can be pretty heavy to wade through in parts. I've been wanting to re-read Scarlet Letter for years but it's just not something that I can sink easily into after a long day. So when a review copy of this book came available on NetGalley, I snapped it up as fast as I could, and ended up reading it in a single sitting that day.
First of all, the artwork in this manga is gorgeous. The book is fully black-and-white (which is my one complaint; the color cover is just stunning) and the rendering of the faces is incredible and evocative. Each character is rendered uniquely and is recognizable to me, which is always a big plus for graphic novels. The scenery shots, too, are gorgeous and there is no skimping on detail. Seriously, I would recommend picking this up based on the art alone.
Regarding the adaptation of the story: I love it. I haven't read Scarlet Letter in years, so there might be some details that I've missed, but this feels like a very faithful adaptation of the original. In some ways I almost like this adaptation better; I found Pearl and Dimmesdale to both be much more sympathetic here than I did in Hawthorne's novel, I think in part because of the emotive expressions rendered through the artwork. When Pearl is throwing flowers at the badge, for instance, she genuinely looks like a small child playing a game rather than a fae creature tormenting her mother (as Hawthorne was sometimes wont to render her). The added visualization made the story feel more real.
My only other real criticism of this is that I wish the publisher would make a kindle version; other manga series have done well in electronic form, so why not these? I hope they expand that as an option in the future.
NOTE: This review is based on a free electronic Advance Review Copy of this book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
~ Ana Mardoll
This is a very good interpretation of the classic book by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I loved the artwork. The faces especially are very expressive.
It is obviously shortened version, but it did get the essence of the story right.
The story is about a young lady who had a child out of wedlock. She was ostracized by her community and made to always wear red letter A as a sign for her "sin" but it did not break her. She wore it proudly. Very sad that this kind of injustice was happening in the past, and we need a reminder to make sure it does not repeat. There is still too many people who try to judge other people on what is going on inside their pants.
The idea of the Manga Classics series is thus very intriguing. I was able to finally find out how The Scarlet Letter ends, and I saw the story depicted in pictures to help me visualize it even better. While I cannot say how accurate this adaptation is to the original novel, I can say that it made me want to pick up The Scarlet Letter and actually give it a second chance. This manga was a super quick read, but one that was emotional and intriguing. I couldn't put it down until I was done!
I am no art critic, but I did find the art very interesting in this book. The artwork is done completely in black and white with the exception of the scarlet letter, which is shown in red throughout the book. I thought that was a very smart decision – it really makes the 'A' stand out on Hester's chest, and draws the reader's eye towards it in every scene. I did find that some of the imagery didn't fit in with the story's tone or time period, but overall it was very well done and certainly added a lot to the reading experience.
I also thought it was great that this book included a guide on reading manga at the beginning for newbies like me. It did take a few pages for me to get used to reading right to left, but I soon got the hang of it. I also liked how the book concludes with some passages about the original novel, and how the authors made choices in this adaptation based on The Scarlet Letter's history. Unfortunately, I couldn't read these passages on the eARC version of the book (the print was small and blurry), but they look like a solid addition from what I could see.
All in all, I really enjoyed Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. I think it would make a great companion to anyone studying The Scarlet Letter in school, or to anyone who is interested in reading classic literature but has a difficult time understanding it. I am definitely interested in picking up the original novel now, and want to check out more Manga Classics in the future. I highly recommend checking out this series!