Never having read the novel, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and only having a passing knowledge of the text/story itself, I was not sure what to expect with Brave New World: A Graphic Novel.
The other reviews I read on Goodreads mention the misogyny of the male characters. I am sorry to point out, but duh…. It was 1932. Do you think the author was “woke?” I am assuming he never expected women to read his works because you know, women “don’t read” and especially “don’t read science fiction.” But what a commentary of the world at the time. But sadly, it has not changed much. I can also understand why people are not crazy about the story itself. There is much going on and at same time a lot of repetition. I think one reason for people disliking it is that this theme has been done before, without realizing or thinking about (even subconsciously) the fact that this was the if not the original but one of the originals that the rest are based on.
The use of colors (which ones or lack thereof) is important to set the tone, and especially red. Red is always an important color with illustrations, but I find it especially true with graphic novels. One Goodreads reviewer said the artwork was “beautiful watercolors” that countered the darker themes. It really does show how Fred Fordham (the adaption maker and illustrator) wants to show the extremes of things.
I cannot say I love their work in BNW, but there is something about it that was powerful, and I enjoyed viewing it. They are not images that you can look at just once, but at the same time, the chaos to them makes it hard to focus on them. I can see why they are considered basic or even dull and uninspiring. I found them to bleed together. But I assumed that was to prove a point; that everything is there to make sure you don’t or can’t stop and think. Life is a blur, life is there to be used up, not to be thought about.
If you know the story, you know that sex plays a huge part of the story. There are several sex scenes, or almost sex scenes (a zipper might be a little lower than normal), and they are mostly tastefully done (trigger warnings: there are ogres). There is some “this is a bit on the creepy side” (see the orgies and yes, the drug usage especially in relation to them), or when we see the characters John’s mother/Linda, a bit sad. However, the orgy scenes, while you see “nothing” can be downright disturbing (okay, yes, I keep repeating this. I admit they were very much not cool in my book).
I wonder how much of the coming out of the Depression influenced Huxley’s writings. How much of the political scene (Hitler is coming to power, we were still coming off World War One and Two was around the corner). How much is “European” thought processing vs. the American reader. And the religious, sexual, and mother figure imagery are thoughtful, if not pro-female. And the ending? I was a bit confused and startled and knew it was the only way to end things. But really? Did they have to go there? How much of the graphic novel is “word for word” from the novel? I am assuming as close as humanly possible as his adaptations of The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird were close to their novels (or from my memories of them). As a sidebar, the librarian who checked me out said he was a fan of the novel, and this graphic novel was just as good. And if the novel is as good as the graphic novel, then I might just have to give it a try. I noticed some similarities to the presentation and theme of Brave New World to The Great Gatsby, but that could probably be attributed mostly to the same person adapted them.
My rating is a four (4.5) due to it being an experience. I understand why it is a classic, and while it might not the best piece of fiction made, it is one that will hopefully get you thinking and talking.