Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Story adaptation by Crystal Silvermoon
English script by Stacy King
Art by Sun Neko Lee
Publisher UDON entertainment productions, with Morpheus Publishing Limited
Review copy supplied by Net Galley and the publishers
Anytime classics are adapated into a manga, what I read it for is to see if the art and the adapted story are able to capture the essence of the original classic and still sell the story enough through the artwork and character development so that my middle readers feel like they want to attempt the original, even if it's later in their school life.
Victor Hugo's story is just one tragedy after another and it takes a good 200 pages even in a manga before things start looking up, so this book for the first time reader of this work, who has not seen the 2012 musical, takes some commitment. If they use the title as a clue, then they will know that this is a tragedy. The cover shows a forlorn looking Cosette. Even with her big manga eyes, she looks worried.
Cosette as the blonde Cinderella type is endearingly pitiful while her "benefactors," the Thenardiers are comically cruel so that is a selling point. Fantine, once she must shave her hair just made me think of Anne Hathaway with her equally large doe-like eyes so I almost wanted someone to start singing. That was a distraction, but it may just be because I read the original and saw several different film versions.
Will this version sell students on reading the original? I think the biggest selling point is the romance between Cosette and Marius because of the way they are drawn, so the girls may like it, but I think the story line between Valjean and Javert is more powerful in the original story and that may appeal more to guys but this manga version doesn't build Valjean up enough or show enough of the action scenes.
Still, overall, it is a good starting place for this classic novel, and if students never read the Hugo version, they will at least understand the story enough to get the gist.