Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > The Amulet of Samarkand

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
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's review
Oct 15, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: graphic-novels, fantasy, library, middle-grade
Read on October 15, 2011

How far would you go for revenge? After being humiliated by Simon Lovelace, twelve-year-old magician Nathaniel schemes to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace's own home. In order to accomplish this task he calls upon the help of the powerful djinni called Bartimaeus. Only things quickly go wrong.

The more I read graphic adaptations of books and other media, the more I realize that they're a lot like film adaptations. Like in movies, the author and illustrator need to strike a delicate balance. They need to be faithful to the source material, while making sure the adaptation fits its new format. One area where the Bartimaeus graphic novel succeeds is in faithfulness to the source material. Despite the fact that The Amulet of Samarkand was a rather thick novel most of it remains intact in this 144 page graphic novel. The writers did a very good job of distilling it down to its most important part. Unfortunately, such faithfulness almost ends up being this adaptation's undoing.

Part of the charm of the Bartimaeus series can be found in the character of Bartimaeus himself. He's a great source of comedy, a clever djinni that talks too much and has a knack for getting out of difficult situations. The writers do their best to bring this across in the graphic novel, but it doesn't always end up working out. The already small panels are cluttered with text boxes containing Bartimaeus's stream of consciousness. This becomes the most problematic when Bartimaeus is describing his own action. At these moments I felt so frustrated. Ae can clearly see what he's doing in the illustration. We don't need it spelled out for us. It's almost like the writers are afraid to let the pictures tell the story. Sometimes they do do a good job of bringing Bartimaeus's voice to the page. This can be seen in how they include the footnotes.

One positive that's worth mentioning is the artwork. There are some panels when it is absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately this does have its drawbacks as well. At times I wondered if the pages were meant to be larger- closer to the size of a standard comic book page- because there were a lot of little panels shoved onto some of the pages. Sometimes the font with even hard to read as it was so small. Other times I didn't really have any issues at all.

The novel, The Amulet of Samarkand, is a fantasy book worth reading. Unfortunately the graphic adaptation of the novel is kind of mixed. I didn't necessarily find it a bad or read, but it had a lot of issues. On a more positive note, as a librarian I have witnessed this particular adaptation draw new readers into the series, so I believe that it has it's merits and will work well for some readers.
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Reading Progress

10/15/2011 "Read most of this yesterday. Will finish today. Feeling a little let down, despite the fact that Bartimaeus is as lovable as ever."
100.0% "Finished this a few minutes ago. Feel mixed. The story is still good, but as an adaptation, it leaves much to be desired. Full review coming soon."
08/14/2016 marked as: read

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