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Review: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation

Esther Keller

Hill & Wang takes a favorite and a classic and cleverly adapts it to a comic form, bringing this story to a whole new generation.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation
Tim Hamilton
Publisher’s Age Recommendation- General Adult
My Suggested Age Recommendation -14 & up
Hill & Wang, July  2009, 978-08090-51014
160 pp, $16.95 (pbk)

I first read Fahrenheit 451 somewhere between the end of 8th grade and the beginning of 9th grade. At the time, I had been on a short-lived ‘read the classics’ kick and read it for my own pleasure, not a school assignment.  And though it’s been a long time since I picked up the book, and don’t think I’ve read it since, I’ve always remembered the eerie and lonely feeling I had while reading the novel and the same feeling that stayed with me when I was done.9780809051014 Review: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation  As an avid reader, who at that point in her life had not considered becoming a librarian, I could not imagine a life without books.  So I was left sort of spooked by the idea of a society that valued technology over books.

I don’t know how widely this title is read today.  In my 7 years working in a middle school, only 1 teacher has attempted it with their class and it wasn’t the right fit.  (While I see no problem with an 8th grade reading this book, it is better suited for a high school audience.) Adapting this story into a comic form will hopefully have a whole new generation of readers appreciating this story and contemplating what life will be like without the written word. (No matter the format!)

It doesn’t hurt that the author authorized the adaptation.

Like I said, it’s been a long time since I read the original story, but reading the comic left me with the same feeling I recalled from reading the original novel. I felt lonely. I felt sad.  So while I can no longer attest to the fact that this is a perfect adaptation, whether it matches the novel plot point by plot point, I can say that Hamilton truly captures the sense of the novel in his comic.

In my opinion, Hamilton accomplishes through the graphic novel’s artwork – it’s dark, and a bit sinister.  The colors are muted – but at times angry.  The panels are dark. The real light only comes at the end when Montag chooses to go on the lam and join others in memorizing books.

While this comic isn’t for all teens, it will be an excellent companion to an excellent novel.  Perhaps some readers will never choose to read the original source, but at least they’ll be familiar with this classic story. 

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Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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