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Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation
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Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  653 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews

A stunning graphic adaptation of one of the most famous, contested, and important books of all time.

Few books have been as controversial or as historically significant as Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Since the moment it was released on November 24, 1859, Darwin’s

Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by Rodale Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Sep 02, 2010 Kazi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
How scholarly can a graphic novel be? This one is surprisingly good - though most of its four stars are for the drawings, which are just amazing. Other than that, it is all here - speciation, isolation, genetic drift, natural selection, niche exploitation, sexual selection. My problems with the text are small factual ones:
"From the great Ostrich in Africa to its smaller cousins the rhea and emu in South America."

Forgetting to add "and Australia" is a small oversight and the origins of the emu
Rick Silva
Sep 25, 2014 Rick Silva rated it liked it
If you were going to make a list of books that would be difficult to do a graphic novel adaptation of, Darwin's On the Origin of Species, would be an excellent candidate for that list.

So some serious degree-of-difficulty points for Michael Keller for making the attempt.

I was not surprised to find the results were a mixed bag. Darwin relies heavily on shear volume of evidence to make his case for natural selection as the mechanism for evolution. And while a picture may be worth a thousand words,
Koen Crolla
Jan 17, 2011 Koen Crolla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology
Rife with inaccuracies, many of them stemming from the attempt by the author to update Origin with new information. A lot of these additions are less than helpful, and a good number are misleading because of the way they are phrased, or flat-out false. The quality of the artwork is less than optimal, though I appreciate how hard it is to find an artist who is good at drawing both humans and the sort of animal and plant illustrations science requires, and who works quickly and consistently enough ...more
Apr 05, 2011 Philip rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
I'm with the hoards of other people out there that want to read a classic/controversial book, but find they don't have the time or the will to go about it. So, when I saw the library had picked up the graphic novel edition - and it didn't look cheesy - I thought I'd give it a shot.

I felt a little cheap reading the graphic adaptation, but all of the text was direct language from Darwin's book, or scientific commentary on it. (And the pictures were fantastic...)

I wanted to come away with the feeli
Ganesh Sanal
Jul 25, 2016 Ganesh Sanal rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
I appreciate the effort that was taken with the illustrations. But at the end of the day, a book has to do what a book has to do. It has to convey a message.
Here the message from Michael Keller was too obscure for a newbie in evolutionary theory or Victorian English and was too trivial for an expert. No doubt Charles Darwin was one of the greatest genious of all time. But the century old thesis is too archaic and outdated to get you to turn the pages. I would recommend reading Richard Dawkins i
Oct 28, 2016 Mighty rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've picked up The Origin of Species several times, started in and found myself thinking about what I had for breakfast. Blame it on my never-diagnosed (but evolutionarily adaptive!) ADD, but I couldn't get through much of the original version. But THIS-- this is pure genius. The highlights of Darwin's text in the original language, with excerpts from his correspondence, and some post-Darwin clarifications of the theory, all framed within lush drawings of newts, ice-age creep, continental drift, ...more
Dec 12, 2014 Christy rated it really liked it
Beautiful illustrations and awe-inspiring text. I enjoyed the way it brought together the original text with modern updates and some of Darwin's original correspondence.

Things I learned/Thoughts I had:
I think a lot of people misunderstand Darwin's assertion that apes and humans share a common ancestor. Many of the people who rail against evolution just can't believe that we've evolved from gorillas or orangutans, but that's not what Darwin was suggesting at all! He was asserting that both specie
Jan 04, 2015 Eleri rated it it was amazing
An appealing graphic adaptation of Darwin's On The Origin of Species. Feeling daunted by the thought of reading the original text, I approached this version hoping that I would be bale to follow the theories easily and gain a greater understanding of the theories of evolution and natural selection, and I was not disappointed. Visually this book is fantastic and the illustrations help to both expand upon and explain in more detail, the ideas raised in the text. As the text is broken down into ...more
Emily Kimball
Sep 06, 2014 Emily Kimball rated it really liked it
"There is grandeur in this view of life..."

A beautiful adaptation of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Due to the content, the book reads kind of like a textbook, so I would say you'd appreciate it more if you are already accustomed to reading dense scientific texts. Although this book is more free-flowing and "user friendly" than my college science textbooks. ;)

However, this book was simple to read and I flew through it. The facts from Darwin's life and research are straight, and other
Jan 25, 2011 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Ronald
As seen on Science News.

I would have appreciated a greater explanation (an introduction, perhaps?) of how much was text from On the Origin of Species and how much was artistic license. About a third of the way through, I concluded that one particular font was Darwin's words, and another kind of font was used to illustrate examples of Darwin's principles using what we know now about evolutionary biology.

The selection of Darwin's text was quite dry: it's not really the kind of book that makes me w
Nov 12, 2014 dejah_thoris rated it really liked it
Great graphic adaptation of Darwin's original work. It begins with an overview of the famous trip now that Darwin has arrived home and is ready to start writing his seminal work. Then the next several chapters are easy summaries of the original's actual content chapter by chapter presented using beautiful pastel drawings. (Trust me, this much better than reading the original. I still remember doing so at 13 and thinking, "What's all this pigeon breeding?") Then the final chapter features Darwin ...more
Feb 17, 2010 Adrienne rated it liked it
I always wanted to know what I did or did not know about this most divisive of books.

My reaction to the science was unusual: there were surprising tidbits and ramifications of "survival of the fittest" I had not previously realized and yet at the end of the book it all seemed like common sense and I can't think of what I learned that was new. The science is truly like that, both complex and simple at once.

This was a great introduction and good for beginners, but the prose was a little thick an
Jan 16, 2010 Erik rated it really liked it
Who would’ve thought Darwin’s most famous treatise could be brilliantly adaptation into the comics medium? (Perhaps “graphic novel” is a better, more refined and respectable term. But sometimes you just have to call it what it is. If it’s in told through visual pictures and panels accompanied with words, it’s a comic by any other name.)

Keller’s narrative expertly weaves the biographical and historical events in Darwin’s life with succinct lucid explanations on the many mechanisms behind his the
May 31, 2010 Jonathan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that fails to deliver on its ample promise. It is only a mediocre introduction to evolution and it is not a good adaptation of Darwin's book. This is what bothered me the most.

Perhaps it is inevitable that any book on evolution produced today would respond to the controversy by trying to answer the objections of those who would add intelligent design to the curriculum. As a result, it is difficult for the reader to tell where Darwin's book ends and modern science begins. That make
Sep 26, 2012 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will be honest's a little dry. But that's because Darwin's original The Origin of Species, while incredibly brilliant and highly readable for the scientific tract it is, can also be very dry.

This graphic adaptation is pretty much what it says on the box. There's a bit of biographical information on Darwin in the beginning (in graphic novel form, of course) and then after that it's just a graphic novel version of The Origin of Species, putting illustrations to Darwin's original text
This book confirms something I already kinda knew -- I don't find science writing to be fun pleasure reading. I really struggled to understand both Darwin's theories and how the art was supposed to work in with the story. The art was not good from a comics perspective. Often the panels were hard to follow (which one comes next??) and overall there was nothing inspired about the art. The only parts I truly enjoyed were the biographical sketches in the beginning and the end. I think there is ...more
Ben McFarland
Oct 08, 2013 Ben McFarland rated it it was ok
If you want to "see the movie" instead of reading the book, this graphic novel edition of The Origin of Species will do the trick (Michael Keller wrote, Nicolle Roger Fuller drew). Darwin's arguments are appropriately distilled and discussed, and the high points of his prose are pulled out. As an example of the art of comics I can't recommend it. Technical issues such as layout, movement between boxes, and the quality of drawing aren't up to average for the field. I also would have liked more ...more
Apr 21, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it
Four stars because of the mostly beautiful illustrations of animals, plants, and geology.The quality of the adaptation was in general very high. I am glad notes were included to update the reader on later findings related to Darwin's work.

I do suggest reading this book in small bursts unless one is really familiar with the contents already. There is so much information I found myself reading things twice at times! My only qualm was the illustrations of people. They really appeared poorly done t
Apr 04, 2012 Lance rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in the book. The artwork on the cover is really beautiful, but it doesn't really reflect the much lower level of craftsmanship through the rest of the book.

In terms of content, this is a decent way to get an overview of Darwin's great book, but the organization and layout in the book (especially in the intro and afterword) leave a lot to be desired. It took too much time on too many pages to figure out what image went with what text, and in what order the text should be read.
Pretty good presentation of the basic lines of reasoning in Darwin's On the Origin of Species with a conclusion that ties in the last century and a half's worth of discoveries in the fields comprising evolutionary biology. The artwork is at times really wonderful and at other times merely distracting. My biggest complaint was that it was hard to tell at times when the words were Darwin's and when Keller's; my response to my own complaint is that it is now time to read the original so I will know ...more
Jul 14, 2016 Jrobertus rated it really liked it
This graphic book uses Darwin’s own words from the Origin of Species together with lovely illustrations to cover the main ideas of his theory. Needless to say, it is much slimmer than the encyclopedic original, but the author summarizes the key points of each chapter with well-chosen passages and backs them with one or two of the most compelling examples Darwin used. I found this a most enjoyable, even delightful read. I wish many more people would read it - that might reduce some of the ...more
Caleb Powers
Apr 25, 2014 Caleb Powers rated it it was ok
The artwork is good, and the graphic adaptation part of it is interesting, the parts where it shows Charles Darwin's life, but the actual subject matter is rather dry--not that I didn't expect that, it is a science book, after all. The base theory is sound, natural selection is obviously a proven fact in today's day and age, but the leaps of logic Mr. Darwin makes are quite unfounded.

As a graphic adaptation, it's okay, but as you'll know if you're friends with me, I don't agree in the slightest
May 07, 2010 Alice rated it really liked it
This was an interesting way to get people to read an otherwise very dense text. Excerpts of the original language were kept - so you get the feeling you're reading 19th century writing, but it's simplified and illustrated. There were times when more modern research was referenced, and I came away wondering what was from the original and what was added - it was hard to tell. Also, I found some areas "over illustrated" where the abundance of pictures got in the way of understanding the ideas. But, ...more
Sarah Batchelder
I thought the art in this book was amazingly beautiful, but the text bogged me down in parts. In fact, my favorite parts of this book (other than the art) were the beginning and end. The beginning described Darwin's life and what he was going through when he wrote On the Origin of Species. The ending described some of the debate which occurred after he published and the science which has been done since then.
Nov 16, 2010 Carrie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novel
I heard an interview in which the author stated that his intent was to spread On the Origin of Species to audiences that would not otherwise read the original text. This got me excited but it was a complete disappointment. He should have smoothed over the language and helped to interpret it. Instead, it was a regurgitation of snippets from Darwin's book, combined with impressionistic, unhelpful illustrations. A lost opportunity to share this story with a wider audience.
Apr 11, 2013 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The illustrated adaptation of classic works genre is really intriguing to me. I really appreciated the artwork in the book and some of the updated editors notes concerning the Origin of Species. However, this is absolutely meant for younger readers. This is a great way to introduce young readers to the very abstract concepts of evolution, biology, and ecology. But if you're seeking a complete text, this isn't the way to go.
Oct 17, 2009 McLean rated it really liked it
This comic-book adaptation of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" is fun, informative, and very quick read. The illustrations work very well, helping to demonstrate commonalities and differences between species.

The book also includes occasional more modern bits of information - these are usually spelled out as distinct from the Darwin portions in editors' notes, though at times it gets to be a bit confusing as to which parts are coming directly from Darwin and which parts aren't.
Ratna Fitria Utami
Bukunya keren! Dengan ada gambarnya seperti komik, ya emang dasarnya ini buku adaptasi grafis, jadi kita dapat menikmati cerita dengan ilustrasinya. Hanya saja disayangkan tulisannya yang seolah-olah tulisan tangan, seperti tulisan sambung, kecil-kecil, dan tipis gitu, jadi agak susah dibacanya. Kadang malas membacanya dan jadi liat gambarnya aja. Coba ukuran hurufnya lebih diperbesar dikit, buku ini pasti cocok deh buat anak-anak sekolah. :)
Aug 10, 2010 Elmhogar rated it really liked it
Beautiful illustrations in creative adaptation of Origin of Species based on his letters (with editor's footnotes correcting the parts where he was wrong) and a great ending of Darwin getting a guided tour of his legacy (skipping over the bad parts) of where we are now with the latest developments of his theories.
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