Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Authorized Adaptation: Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

During the election of our current president, "change" became something we associated with advancement and prosperity. But what if "change" was instead something that was destructive and restrictive?

Guy Montag lives in a world where this type of change is occurring. He is a fireman, however his brigade creates fires instead of putting them out. Their purpose is to burn all books, which are deemed useless and
banned in a world of three-wall T.V.s and drone-like viewers. With everyone engulfed by mindless media, books and in turn all critical thinking and meaningful relationships, are forbidden.

Guy does not question the usefulness or goodness of his livelihood until his young and free-spirited neighbor Clarisse awakens his senses during their late night walks. She begs him to answer why the once beautiful and thoughtful world has changed, and why men like him burn charming things like books. (A sneak peek of one of these conversations can be seen

In his struggles to find himself and to define right and wrong, will he find answers in the very things he once burned? What will become of this nation with a lack of individuality; will it be destroyed or will it be healed? In a world on fire, anything can happen...

Ray Bradbury's timeless sci-fi novel is only strengthened by its entrance into the genre of graphic novel. Tim Hamilton's illustrations are at times stark, gray and rainy, casting shadows on main characters; and at other times are emblazoned with fire, lighting up the hellish world of Bradbury's Guy Montag. This adaptation brings the imaginative words of Bradbury to life, accurately setting the tone felt in the original text. As evident in this ExpandedBooks video, Bradbury could not agree more. Bradbury talks about how he was very influenced by newspaper comic-strip icons, like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, and how his science fiction writings beg to be made into graphic novels. Many of his short stories had already been adapted into comics in the 1950's.

Hamilton's wonderful adaptation is catchy, enticing, and introspective. Teens should read this modified classic because it opens the imagination and implores even the most reluctant readers to enjoy its strong visual and thematic messages. In his introduction to Hamilton's graphic recreation, Bradbury speaks to teachers and students about the importance of metaphors and uninhibited imagination. This book would make a great addition to the classroom and could serve as a companion to the original text nicely. It's intensity and nostalgic feel will surely fascinate student readers.

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