Manga Classics: Les Misérables by Crystal S. Chan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Les Miserables was a story that I had never had any interest in, sure there were the musicals and the movie but nothing ever struck a cord with me. That is until I happened to see this on NetGalley. I had never realized that Les Miserables was a book but that it now had a Manga version.
I enjoy Manga greatly and thought that perhaps I should give this classic re-telling a shot.
I was surprised by how captivating the story is and once I started, I just couldn’t stop until I reached the ending. Les Miserables is a fantastic story and this Manga version is simply superb!
The story is one made of a multitude of stories and struggles of the cast of characters introduced. So as to not get too deep into the story or spoilers. I’ll just give a brief summary of the characters we see the most.
Starting off, we are introduced to the struggles of Fantine. She’s a young mother who has a child out of wedlock and is desperately searching for a job as a means to support her and her child Cosette. Being told she is unvirtuous and not fit to work, she is sent away from each job and town. That is until she comes across an inn with owners who agree to raise Cosette (of course with monthly payments from Fantine.), the owners cheery and kind façade melts away quickly and their true natures come to light. They abuse Cosette, Using Fantine for her money…all the while, Fantine struggles to pay for the support of her child and is willing to give up everything for the well-being of her daughter.
This is when we are introduced to Jean Valjean…a convict who was recently released from prison and is not the most welcome of persons. He is turned away by nearly everyone, save a bishop who believes that he is capable of good in this world. A notion that Valjean works towards and proves true time and time again. Despite multiple struggles with the law and the pantomime of what is right and what is wrong under strenuous circumstances.
One persons story contributes and adds to the next in a never exhausted flow to give the reader a full grasp of each situation and the importance of the events. There are of course many side-characters that are introduced and appear frequently in the storyline but I wish not to give too much away as it would detract from the story as a whole.
As for the artwork, it was very pleasing to the eye and really made me feel immersed and connected in the world of these characters. It added an element of understanding of the situations at hand, even when dialog didn’t convey the emotion of the scenes.
The writing was well thought out and was easy to understand. It was especially helpful that the author realized that perhaps not everyone was familiar with Victor Hugo’s work and went with the idea that those who picked up this version may be the reader’s first experience with the title.
It was great for those like me…who probably never would have had an interest otherwise. So if you like manga and want to check out the classics in that particular format then this is definitely for you.
Again it was a great story with vibrant characters set in a time when all things seemed all for naught. I enjoyed it immensely. So I would like to personally thank all those who worked on this version of Les Miserables, the publisher and NetGalley who made it possible for me to read this epic classic!