Book Review: Northanger Abbey (Graphic Novel)


This is the first graphic novel I have ever read, and I would never have picked it up if it weren’t for the #VTReadingChallenge, in which “a graphic novel” is one of the categories. I stood, hesitatingly, in front of the shelves of adult graphic novels at my library. Everything looked strange, and frankly, unappealing (I’m not at all into fantasy or science fiction, which seem to make up the bulk of graphic novels), until suddenly, I latched onto a shred of familiarity and selected this adaptation of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I read the original when I was a teenager and had only the vaguest recollection of the plot and characters.

My verdict: the graphic novel was okay. I don’t have anything to compare it to. The plot could have used some filling out, which I suppose is to be expected when you’re jumping rapidly from scene to scene, as necessitated by the graphic novel form. The text was really small. I had to move a lamp to light the pages better so I could see the tiny print. The character’s faces were really angular, so female faces often looked masculine, especially because the shadowing under their chins was weird, giving them the appearance of having beards. I liked the style of art used for the five large pictures at the back of the book (one of which was used for the book’s cover as seen above) way better than the style used for the graphic novel itself. It took me a while to figure out what the five pretty pictures were for. My conclusion, although I may be wrong, is that the book was originally published in five installments, with the five pictures serving as the covers. I wish that the whole book could have been illustrated in that style, instead of in its more cartoony form.

If you have a choice between reading the original Northanger Abbey novel and this graphic novel, you should definitely go for the original. You lose so much of the beauty and charm and understated wit of the original when it is reduced to graphic novel form. If someone is already familiar with the world of Jane Austen, then the graphic novel could be an entertaining enhancement. But if the graphic novel was someone’s only exposure to Jane Austen, then librarians and English teachers and literature lovers all over the world would weep.


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