Illustrator: Young Kim
Publisher: Yen Press
Pub. Date: 2010
Genres: Paranormal Romance, YA, Graphic Novel
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
It’s been years since I last reread Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, and I was a Twihard back then. I remember wanting to read and own the graphic novel adaptation, even though I believed it wouldn’t be as good as the novel, but I didn’t do either until this year. Young Kim adapted Twilight into a beautiful graphic novel that is pretty accurate to the original book. This review comes from the perspective of having read the novel it’s based on and not being such a Twihard anymore.
In case you avoided the Twilight hype and hate, Twilight is about this average teen girl, Bella Swan, who moves from Phoenix to Forks, Washington, so that her mom can be happy with her new husband. There she deals with a dad who hasn’t seen her since she was little and finds this group of very pale, hot kids intriguing. One of them is Edward Cullen, and his behavior on her first day makes her feel bad. A week later, he’s friendly to her. Other things she notices about him help her figure out that he’s a vampire, and somewhere along the line she falls in love with him. Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1, stops the story in that field where Edward reveals his sparkly skin and scarier vampire abilities. Basically, it treats her discovering what he is and their falling in love with each other as the main arc.
Now that we’re on the same page, I loved this adaptation for Kim’s artwork and the nostalgia, but it felt a little over-dramatic. I’ll start with Kim’s work. The adaptation is very accurate, and I attribute that to her working with Meyer on it. The characters, the setting, and facts are all the same. The facts were so detailed that I was surprised. For example, I entirely forgot that Jacob Black had sisters. She is also brilliant at pacing and transitioning by using certain braiding patterns to indicate dreams, page breaks to transition scenes, and for how and when she overlayed Bella’s narration and thoughts.
The technical details of Kim’s artwork are beautiful. I love the textures she drew in the characters’ hair, scenery, photographic yet Food Wars!-esque food. Look at the examples below. Her line-work and shading are magnificent. She’s also good at showing the characters tremble with the right squiggles.
I never quite figured why Kim decided to use color instead of shades of grey. It was clear when she used red to emphasize blood, or to show Edward’s eyes changing color, or to make him sparkle, or to emphasize dreams. There were a lot of other times when color was used, even as the tone for a page, but I can’t determine what the significance is. In any case, I love the color story and her skill with what looks like watercolor or colored pencils.
Bella Swan is both the protagonist and narrator of this graphic novel. She seems a little sad after the threatening prologue, but she’s beautiful and less clumsy than her original form. She comes across as more helpless or “off” in this adaptation. In the first half of the graphic novel, I noticed that Bella has some hidden reason for “exiling” herself. In the original novel, it’s clearer that she’s more concerned about her mother being childlike and that her new stepdad moves around a lot, making her mother choose between staying with Bella or follow him. Her thoughts and dialogue in this adaptation, surrounding the reason for her leaving, remind me of the Veronica Sawyer in Paramount’s bad adaptation of The Heathers. I’m kind of worried about graphic-novel Bella, since Paramount’s Veronica is crazy.
Then there are the Cullens. The way they are introduced is similar to Bella’s thoughts about them being glamorous models in a magazine. However, we don’t meet any of the siblings, except Edward.
Edward Cullen is not exactly how I imagine him, but I don’t have the skill to draw him the way I imagine him. This one is Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome. His mood shifts are more noticeable in this graphic novel, and he has a clear personality. His action scenes are also great.
Last year I rewatched the Twilight Saga movies and came to terms with actually noticing what people criticized as unhealthy and creepy. This graphic novel makes it clearer but not to the extent that the movie showed it to me. I did see Edward trying to convince Bella that her memory of the car accident was wrong, saying Alice would bring her truck to school without mention of where the keys were, and deliberately scaring Bella. It was nearly Sugou Nobuyuki-level (Sword Art Online) of creepy to watch Edward smell her. Graphic-novel Edward not as creepy as his Robert Pattinson incarnation, but he’s disturbing and not endearing.
With that in mind, I reached a point about a third to half way through the graphic novel that I started laughing and mocking aloud how dramatic Bella’s thoughts are and how she and Edward speak to each other. I think I felt incredulous too about how I didn’t notice the creepier bits until now. I thought Twilight was so beautiful and romantic when I was in junior high. I’m a different person than that teen girl who fell in love with the series, but it’s the first time I realized how over-the-top some of this feels. I’m not the target audience for this graphic novel anymore.
Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1, is a stunning adaptation. I recommend reading it for the beautiful artwork and for the nostalgia, if you were ever a Twihard. You might also enjoy it if you’re a teenager who likes reading about vampires and hasn’t somehow read or watched Twilight already. I doubt you will like it if you hated the original novel.