The Odyssey: a Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds
Candlewick Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7636-4268-6.
This beautifully crafted graphic novel is one of the best I have read. It is the story of Odysseus, thwarted by the god Poseidon in his attempts to return home to his wife and son after the Trojan wars. Monsters and obstacles are put in his way, only to be overcome with the help of the goddess Athena, and the hero has some romantic encounters on the way. This interpretation of Homer's epic poem is well researched as are the atmospheric pencil and watercolour renderings of life on the Greek islands in the Bronze Age add another dimension to the text.
Well balanced between the carefully chosen dialogue and the visual narrative, each frame effectively communicates the story without the need for extra explanation. The characters are well drawn and easy to identify, the use of soft coloured outlines to distinguish gods from mortals, works well. The reader is able to instantly and vividly recognise the characters' emotions as they struggle through each trial and dynamic viewpoints add to the fast pace.
Following on from Hinds' graphic adaptations of Beowulf and Shakespeare's King Lear and Merchant of Venice, this literate adaptation will have appeal for adults and senior students revisiting the classic text while the skill of the artist makes it accessible to ESL and middle school students looking for a story of adventure and hardships overcome.