Author: Victor Hugo, Stacy King, Crystal Silvermoon, and SunNeko Lee
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Source: Myrick Marketing and Media, LLC on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Adapted for stage and screen, loved by millions, Victor Hugo’s classic novel of love and tragedy set in 19th century France is reborn in this fantastic new manga edition!
Gorgeous and expressive art brigns to life the unforgettable stories of Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, and the tragic Fantine in this epic adaptation of Les Misérables! (Source: Goodreads)
This is my third Manga Classics book now, I’ve read the Pride and Prejudice adaptation and The Scarlet Letter which came out last week. I am a huge fan of Les Miserables, having read about a third of the book so far, seen the musical live, seen the movie, and watched the anniversary concerts a few times I know quite a bit about the content of the book. While I haven’t finished the whole book I have a few friends who are massive fans and are always telling me their ideas and commentary about the rest of the book that I have not read, so even the intimate details of the book have been spoiled to me. This made me a little leary about a manga adaptation. The original text is massive, like over 1000 pages massive. That’s really hard to pare down well, and honestly I’m not sure it was successful in this adaptation. I think they kept the main plot points intact but lost a lot of the heart and feeling of the story. The art was lovely and the designs for the characters were great, but I just felt the story was rushed and missing the spirit that the musical captured so well.
As I’ve said they kept the main plot points. The story progresses as you’d expect it would. I definitely felt like they got all the main points of the story that were necessary. It was certainly very rushed because there wasn’t much room to really pace things out, and the source text is very long. I think the feeling was lost in a lot of this because there wasn’t much room to establish it. Javert’s view of justice is really lost until the final moments of his life it becomes clear, but was previously never explained. The relationship development is all sort of lost to the quick pace of the story. I also felt like things were explained in a strange order, going back in flashbacks, which were often abrupt and confusing. The storytelling just wasn’t as great in this one, and that’s in part because the length of the source text just doesn’t lend itself to adaptation as easily as Pride and Prejudice did.
The characters are presented well, which their main themes present. As I’ve said there’s some loss of understanding where things are just not explained to the fullest extent. I think the relationships also wound up very rushed and a little confusing. I definitely liked the art and character designs. Cosette is of course the most memorable, with her long blonde hair and those big doe eyes. I wasn’t such a fan of Javert, whose hair really didn’t feel fitting to me. Marius was adorable though. Fantine was angelic looking, which really suited her. Overall they were exceptional. There wasn’t nearly as much art for the setting in this that really stood out, as compared to the other Manga Classics books on the other hand, with the characters really taking the attention for the art.
I think this was a decent adaptation, but it was definitely lacking something. The heart of the story wasn’t shining through the way I’d expect it to. I loved the art, but the storytelling wasn’t there. I think Pride and Prejudice remains the best adaptation in this series that I’ve read so far.