Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon ***1/2

I got my copy in the mail 2 days ago, but was too engrossed in both an audio book and knitting to actually sit down and read it. It's a graphic novel, see, so it requires sitting with good light and strong readers and poring over it.

I finally did this last night - like comic books, it can be done in one sitting the first time. I had already seen early sketches and read all the updates on Gabaldon's website as it was being created, so there were no major surprises. I already knew it was from Outlander, it was a "new" story told from Murtagh's POV.

There actually was a new twist stuck in that was resolved inside the story that put a sort of answer to a couple of unanswered (although frankly never actually pondered by me) situations. And it was fun to have drawings of everyone. Hoang the illustrator did some great work with the characters and the settings.

But I'm not that enthusiastic about it. I'm not sure if it's about graphic novels - I tried to sort of familiarize myself with them when this concept was first announced, and looked through but never actually finished some of the novels I had available to me at the time. What I didn't expect was how different the characters looked in different frames. Body shapes changed, a lot. Faces changed completely - sometimes it was only the hair that made me realize who it was. In his trying to have the related characters look like family, as they are described, I found myself wondering who was whom in many of the pictures. First, Murtagh was a pleasant surprise, and I felt the most attractive of all the characters. In my mind, he wasn't as good looking as the fellow Hoang drew! But he also looked enough like Jamie that I kept thinking maybe he was Dougal, Jamie's uncle. Then Dougal appears, and Murtagh and Dougal were different enough usually to pick out (mostly in the hairstyle). Other characters - random men in kilts - were fuzzy enough to be anyone, so I was never clear in those scenes who they were. But Jamie and Claire's faces also changed so much from frame to frame that it was disconcerting. Maybe that's a graphic novel thing, but it was off-putting for me.

So, the story was pretty much what we already knew, with a couple of twists. The overall look was good. But the changes in Jamie's and Claire's faces - not their expressions, but the fact that they looked like completely different characters - were just enough to make me just put it down and be done with it, instead of wanting to go back and go over favorite frames and re-read it and share it with the world.

Ah well. 3 1/2 stars. Liked it. Probably shoulda just stayed on the PBS list for it, but I think I'll keep it - it wasn't really that expensive.

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