Over four years ago, I read Kindred by Octavia Butler. It was my first time reading any of her work, and it quickly made her one of my favorite authors of all time. I hate to say I haven’t read as much of her work now as I would have liked to, but I’ve read a few and want to read more. That said, nothing she wrote will ever beat the masterpiece that is Kindred.
Kindred tells the story of a modern day black woman who is transported back to the antebellum south. She is drawn to a young white boy who continuously gets himself in danger and is in need of her help. Kindred is such a profound work of fiction because it uses Butler’s amazing imagination and creativity to simultaneously engage the reader while also forcing them to better appreciate the true horrors of slavery and racism. I can not speak highly enough of Butler, her writing, or her ability to tackle serious issues. All I can say is, if you haven’t read this, please do! Of all the books I’ve read, this is the one I’d probably push above all others.
For years, I’ve watch anxiously in hopes that it might be adapted into a film or TV series. Sadly, that has yet to happen. There is plenty to say about how such an amazing piece of work can go adapted given how frequently they happen, but this is not about that. That’s because we now have, not a film, but something in between. With this new graphic novel adaption, we can experience this amazing story in a brand new form.
I wish I could say I reread the novel before I started this, but I only read the first couple parts before I finally got around to starting this graphic novel. That gives me a unique perception of this story as I can compare the parts I recently read and see what other parts are like without being recently exposed to it. I definitely noticed the abridgment early on. As I passed what I had read, it became less obvious, but even then there were parts that felt oddly structured. Sometimes, transitions are abrupt skipping or shortening what calls for more time. In the end though, I think it is worth it. I get it takes sacrifices to be able to adapt this entire novel.
The fact is, it is abridged, so it just isn’t capable of covering the same material as effectively. For that reason, it isn’t as good as the original novel. That said, the content is still amazing. I don’t think you can judge the overall quality of the graphic novel for how it stands up against the original. The original did it better, but this is still an outstanding rendition. There is so much art here that brings this material to life on a much deeper level. We have the visceral descriptions (for the most part) of Butler coupled with the art of John Jennings. The art, by the way, is fine; I don’t have much of an opinion there. In the end, it works. It brings her work to a new level.
To me, the dream rendition of this would be an illustrated adaption of the entire novel, incorporating the art used here. Hell, maybe you (or I) could listen to the audiobook while following along in the graphic novel. I’ll also settle for a film/TV adaption as well :). Until then, I highly encourage you to read Kindred and this new Graphic Novel. 5/5 stars
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