Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation – Michael Keller

January 21, 2010 § 17 Comments

In my previous post on Nick Lane’s book, I did mention that I wanted to read Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. And I did actually start on the book. In fact, I think I was up to a little more than halfway through, when I just put it down. But while I was reading that book, I came across this post at Stuff As Dreams Are Made On, and found about a graphic adaptations of Darwin’s book. *Excitement!*

I think finding this book was half the reason why I gave up on Darwin’s book. But more on that later.

I’m actually not happy to say that I was disappointed with the book. It could be because I read this book straight after a kind-of heavy, actual science, science book. But I felt like Keller skipped through so much. Some points were clear and understandable, but some were just random bits of information, and felt a little too scattered for me.

I was also a little lost on how to read this thing! I’m no newbie to graphic novels or manga/manhwa, so I actually found it quite funny how I didn’t know which box came after which. And it gets quite frustrating, since there’s a train of thought that’s supposed to follow one after another. Maybe that’s why it felt scattered. I just don’t know.

The illustrations were actually quite well done, so that’s one redeeming point for the book.

But other than that, I can’t say I really enjoyed this book very much. Sad, because I had wanted to.

Rating: 2.5


My thoughts on Darwin’s Origin of Species on Page 2.


Page: 1 2

§ 17 Responses to Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation – Michael Keller

  • Aimee says:

    gosh, i have a thing for dinosaurs. look at that brill penguin cover! makes me wanna go all ‘t-rex’ on the book.

  • Susan says:

    I understand your disappointment, Su. You had high hopes for this one. But the illustrations–and your photos–are lovely.

  • mee says:

    Oh I’m disappointed that you’re disappointed of the book. Nymeth had a review of this too not so long ago. I can’t remember what she thought of it but I’d been interested to read it since I read her review.

    • Michelle says:

      Went off to find Nymeth’s review, and it turns out she loved it. I’d say you should give it a try. I was probably disappointed because I’d read the original book, and felt like some bits were missing.

      If for no other reason, read the book because of the graphics.

  • Ack, there’s something horrendously block-y and square-like about the illustrations… T_T (I’m probably too used to manga and the flowing lines…)

    • Michelle says:

      It is a little block-y. And amazingly, sometimes the squares are a little.. ‘off’, so much so that I don’t know which square comes after which. Sighs.. (You’re right, we’re both probably a little more used to manga and flowing lines..)

  • Mrs.B says:

    Love the cover and the illustrations. Sorry to hear you didn’t like it though.

  • Eva says:

    Oh no! I’m still going to read this, but I’ll go in w/ lower expectations that if I’d just read Ana’s and Chris’ posts. Which is probably a good thing. 😉

  • Vishy says:

    I was excited when I saw your review of the graphic novel version of Darwin’s book – it is such a wonderful idea to publish a graphic novel version of the subject! But sad to know that you didn’t like the book much. I can understand it from your perspective – when the reader doesn’t know in an intuitive way which panel follows which, then there is a problem with the way the graphic novel or any picture book is organized. Maybe I will browse through this book in the bookshop and see whether I like it, before deciding to read it. Thanks for writing about this book and reviewing it. I hope someone publishes a graphic novel of Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ and a few other science books, which are quite interesting but heavy reading.

    By the way, because you are interested in science, I have to ask you this question : Have you read Bill Bryson’s ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’? What do you think about it?

    • Michelle says:

      I have not read either books that you’ve mentioned. Which is quite sad actually. Because I’ve seen the Bill Bryson book in bookstores so often, but just never picked it up.

      You might want to check out some other reviews of this book, because it looks like the few others who’ve read it have enjoyed it very much. It could very well have just been me. =)

  • Nymeth says:

    I really loved this one, but I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to science, which is probably why it didn’t feel shallow to me.

    • Michelle says:

      I don’t think it’s about whether you’re ignorant or not. It just didn’t capture me as much. And I actually had trouble with the panels.. so.. But great that you loved it. =)

  • Mags says:

    I know that most reviewers have been commenting that failings in the text of this book are made up byt he illustrations, but I’m afraid I have to disagree. Once I read that the illustrator had a science illustration background it made more sense to me that her skill in realizing different subjects could be so varied. She presents some very accurate and detailed drawings of animals and plants, as well as technical drawings of things like cell structure.

    Her grasp of human anatomy and facial representation, however, distracted and disappointed me to the point that I didn’t want to continue reading. I love graphic novels, and seeing humans presented in so amature a style was upsetting to me. The overal style of the illustration also seemed very unfinished–if the art is going to be digital, you shouldn’t be able to see every rough stroke of the stylus in Photoshop. I think this would have been much more satisfying a project if there had been a team of artist–Fuller could have poured all of her energy into her area of expertise, another artist could have drawn compelling human characters, and the colouring could have been professionally finished.

    I know how negative I sound, but parts of it seemed like the result of a really good effort by a high-school digital arts class.

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