A modernized Macbeth for manga fans, but the Bard deserves better.

MACBETH

MODERN ENGLISH EDITION

From the Manga Classics series

Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy gets an overlong Manga Classics series treatment.

This is a modern-language counterpart to the series’ 2018 manga adaptation of Macbeth that preserved the original text. Choy’s black-and-white manga-style artwork is crisp and dynamic, suiting the martial moments but also adeptly portraying characters’ internal struggles. The sharp lines and claustrophobic close-ups capture Macbeth’s journey from loyal liege to unhinged tyrant. Disappointingly, the less nuanced portrayal of Lady Macbeth relies on a literal interpretation of her lines. In a mostly successful attempt to illustrate and explain Elizabethan analogies, Macbeth’s abundant allusions, metaphors, and similes are translated into background imagery. Regrettably, the accompanying, modernized dialogue ultimately detracts from the retelling. The cadence and language of the original text is lost, sacrificed for an unappealing blend of stilted formal English and clichéd phrases. Converting a Shakespearean play to a popular, visual, modern medium may attract new audiences otherwise daunted by archaic language, thick tomes, and impenetrable theatrical productions, but the new dialogue has its own biases and interpretations that may escape readers unfamiliar with other approaches to understanding the play. No Throne of Blood, the medieval-ish Scottish setting remains intact, and the characters read as White.

A modernized Macbeth for manga fans, but the Bard deserves better. (cast list, manga-reading instructions, character sketches, creators’ notes) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947808-21-8

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

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A timely and unabashedly feminist twist on a classic fairy tale.

RED HOOD

Sixteen-year-old Bisou Martel’s life takes a profound turn after encountering an aggressive wolf.

Following an embarrassing incident between Bisou and her boyfriend, James, after the homecoming dance, a humiliated Bisou runs into the Pacific Northwest woods. There, she kills a giant wolf who viciously attacks her, upending the quiet life she’s lived with her Mémé, a poet, since her mother’s violent death. The next day it’s revealed that her classmate Tucker— who drunkenly came on to her at the dance—was found dead in the woods with wounds identical to the ones Bisou inflicted on the wolf. When she rescues Keisha, an outspoken journalist for the school paper, from a similar wolf attack, Bisou gains an ally, and her Mémé reveals her bloody and brave legacy, which is inextricably tied to the moon and her menstrual cycle. Bisou needs her new powers in the coming days, as more wolves lie in wait. Arnold (Damsel, 2018, etc.) uses an intriguing blend of magic realism, lyrical prose, and imagery that evokes intimate physical and emotional aspects of young womanhood. Bisou’s loving relationship with gentle, kind James contrasts with the frank exploration of male entitlement and the disturbing incel phenomenon. Bisou and Mémé seem to be white, Keisha is cued as black, James has light-brown skin and black eyes, and there is diversity in the supporting cast.

A timely and unabashedly feminist twist on a classic fairy tale. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-274235-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told.

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SOLO

The 17-year-old son of a troubled rock star is determined to find his own way in life and love.

On the verge of adulthood, Blade Morrison wants to leave his father’s bad-boy reputation for drug-and-alcohol–induced antics and his sister’s edgy lifestyle behind. The death of his mother 10 years ago left them all without an anchor. Named for the black superhero, Blade shares his family’s connection to music but resents the paparazzi that prevent him from having an open relationship with the girl that he loves. However, there is one secret even Blade is unaware of, and when his sister reveals the truth of his heritage during a bitter fight, Blade is stunned. When he finally gains some measure of equilibrium, he decides to investigate, embarking on a search that will lead him to a small, remote village in Ghana. Along the way, he meets people with a sense of purpose, especially Joy, a young Ghanaian who helps him despite her suspicions of Americans. This rich novel in verse is full of the music that forms its core. In addition to Alexander and co-author Hess’ skilled use of language, references to classic rock songs abound. Secondary characters add texture to the story: does his girlfriend have real feelings for Blade? Is there more to his father than his inability to stay clean and sober? At the center is Blade, fully realized and achingly real in his pain and confusion.

A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told. (Verse fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-310-76183-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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