Earlier in May, I caught the Orwell bug and read Animal Farm in three days. It was enjoyable, but also confusing since I don’t know the history it was hinting at. 1984 seemed to be more palatable and was often referenced during my time in my degree studies.
When I saw this on NetGalley, I had to read it. I figured perhaps I could try to finish the original by George Orwell before I read the graphic novel, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the time. From what I’ve read, I’ve quite enjoyed so I’ll definitely continue it at a later date.
George Orwell’s 1948: The Graphic Novel
by Matyáš Namai
get it here
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in the nation of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens; everywhere he looks he sees the face of the Party’s seemingly omniscient leader, Big Brother. The Party controls everything in Oceania, even the people’s history and language. Now, the Party is forcing the use of an invented language called Newspeak which will prevent political insurgency by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Such thoughtcrime is, in fact, the worst of all crimes. But a seed of dissent grows in Winston—one that will bring him into direct conflict with the Party, and with devastating consequences.
Rarely has one book ever been so rich in political and social criticism as 1984. Originally published in 1949, this new graphic novel edition of the dystopian classic, powerfully illustrated by Matyáš Namai, reveals Winston’s fight against the Party in all its horror and futility.
*A review copy was given by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve only read a few chapters of the book before reading the graphic novel, so I don’t have much to compare it to. I’ve DNF-ed this book on page 210, for reasons I’ll explain below.
As a graphic novel, most of the storytelling is in the art. The sparing use of colour, strategically and impactful, the art style adds to the story, invoking a sense of fear, unease and discomfort. The textures and lighting were incredible, and I wished I had more time with this book just to read it again and admire the art.
The chapter pages were brilliant, it showed the setting and the usage of perspective, making it stand out from the rest of the book. In addition to that, it also includes a beautifully crafted line that explains the chapter in a rather ominous way. It’s one of my favourite parts of this book, and I could compliment it for days.
I can’t tell if there are any crucial details from George Orwell’s 1984 that this graphic novel might’ve not included, but it was good enough for me. I appreciate the way the writer and the artist chose to layout the book, especially when Mr Smith was reading the book from Goldstein. I just wished it didn’t span 10 pages of just pure text, but the illustrations accompanying it at the side probably made it a little worthwhile. Still, as much as I think it was smart design-wise, long passages of text are the last thing I hope to see in a graphic novel.
Towards the end, it somewhat lost its’ charm. There was far too much text to find it enjoyable. Reading this through Adobe Digital Editions on the PC made it far worse with its slow loading time and blurry text. I do not fault the book for this, but instead, it contributes to the problem that it was no longer enjoyable to read.