3 out of 5 stars
I have read the first three books of the House of Night series, as my sister owns them – I think I actually read them all in two days. They’re very easy reads, but the characters are so vapid, shallow and frustrating that this series is often the target of snarky reviews. So even though the series had not previously impressed me, I wanted to give the graphic novel a try because I love the cover art, and I like graphic novels.
My immediate thought was that it wouldn’t be fair to rate this book on the story, since I didn’t enjoy the books too much – but actually, it’s not too bad and isn’t just a graphic novel adaptation of the first novel. Somehow the characters are different, although we barely see the personalities of anyone but Zoey, and she’s lost her bitchy, hypocritical ways.
Anyone who has read the books will remember the opening scene – some random guy just appears next to Zoey at school, points at her and BAM! She’s a vampire. Seriously. I’m so glad this just skipped straight over that part and starts about a month into the school term. This also means it skips the slut-shaming and various other frustrating things about Zoey.
The basic story covers Zoey trying to fulfil five tasks set by Nyx, and involves her and her friends reading through their Fledgling Handbook, which recounts stories of previous famous vampyres and the elements, all of them historical figures. These historic narrations were really interesting – the Odysseus one even has a completely different art style which is really lovely and abstract compared to the rest of the book. However, there were a couple of issues with these scenes. One is about Boudicca and is set in ‘Briton’… that’s the people of Britain, not the country itself. It also claims that Boudicca travelled to the West Midlands after laying siege to Londinium, but she in fact moved on to Verulamium which is in the east (yeah, my ancient history nerd is showing…). On a more serious note, I would say that the novels are suitable for young teens, but the graphic novel has some more disturbing scenes which may make it only suitable for older readers.
I enjoyed the use of several different illustrators throughout the book – the main story was drawn by one artist, whereas others contributed full page drawings between chapters. However, this means that the story art looks nothing like the cover art, which is a shame. That’s not to say it’s bad however – it uses an interesting mix of bright, bold colours in contrast with the ‘dark’ story matter. The characters have striking, angular features which work very well, but some of the panel backgrounds are a bit plain, and there’s a lot of empty space.
Overall, I was quite surprised by this book – Zoey is practically a different character, the art style is lovely, but the characters honestly fall a bit flat and the stories are rather disjointed. There’s not much to connect them together, just Zoey and her friends going ‘Oh, let’s read more of the Handbook’. If the House of Night series was a disappointment to you, but you still read more than one, I think you’d be surprised by this graphic novel. It feels more like a side story than part of the main plot, but then I’ve only read the books once, and it was a while ago.