January 28, 2011

Rapunzel's Revenge: Review

Yep, another one for the "Read Outside Your Comfort Zone" Challenge! This time it's the graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale.
Goodreads' description:

"Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.
Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall. 

And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.

Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you’ve never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter."

Why is it outside my comfort zone? Truthfully, I'm not really sure why! I guess when I think "graphic novel" I immediately think of either typical Japanese manga or superhero comics, and neither of those really grab me. But I know the graphic novel category has really expanded in recent years and stretched its definition, so I thought I would give it a try.

Did it win me over? Why or why not? Well, I decided to start out easy with Rapunzel's Revenge, since I've read other books by Shannon Hale. I'm not sure if this was a good idea, since I did go into reading the book with some expectations based on previous Shannon Hale books I'd read. And I found out that Rapunzel's Revenge has a much different feel than, say, her Bayern books.

So I must admit I was a little disappointed at the start. However, once Rapunzel's adventures got going (and especially once Jack entered the scene) I began enjoying myself. Jack's a fun and funny guy, so there are a lot of humorous lines once he joins Rapunzel on her journey. Some of them are a little cheesily deserving of an eyeroll, but I did find myself smiling and chortling throughout.

The plot, while not too complex, is action-packed and entertaining. Sure, there are a few times that things happen awfully conveniently, but this didn't bother me as much as it might have in a typical novel.

And the illustrations are gorgeous. Nathan Hale certainly has talent and he shows it off in spades in Rapunzel's Revenge. The colours are breathtaking, the details impeccable; the artwork draws the reader in at every page.

So, ultimately, I'd say yes — or at least, it won me over enough to try the next one.

If I could change something, I would... Make the dialogue pop some more. I just felt like a lot of the dialogue (especially towards the beginning) was flat and/or unrealistic, and lacked Shannon Hale's signature mastery of language. I got the feeling that this is aimed at the younger YA set, so that may partially explain the simplistic dialogue (and I suppose the authors are limited in terms of how much space the words can take up on the page, versus the images).

Just one more thing I want to mention: While I am not typically a "Wild West" kind of person, it was a fresh and creative setting for telling a story loosely based on the Rapunzel fairytale. Rapunzel uses her long hair to great effect as braided lassos, for instance! I appreciated the attention the authors paid to making the story feel authentically placed in this setting, including all of the fun geographical names used like "Gothel's Reach," "The Devil's Armpit," and "Pig Tree Gulch."

Would I read more like this book? Yes. I will be picking up the sequel, Calamity Jack, at some point! I think the key for me is remembering that a graphic novel is not going to be able to give me everything I get out of a novel of standard format (for instance, complexity of a character's emotions and reactions), but it may excel in other ways, like with the visual component it brings to a story.

Final verdict: 3 shooting stars. (Compared to other graphic novels, it might get a higher rating, but since I've read so few in this format I just tried to rate it as I would normally.)

Recommend for: lovers of artwork and entertaining Wild West adventures alike. Also, I'm betting a lot of fans of the movie Tangled (which, by the way, I loved, and if you haven't seen it you should) will enjoy this one.

If you haven't signed up yet for the challenge and would like to, you can fill out the form HERE.


  1. This was actually the first Shannon Hale book I read. I wanted to try one, and put this one on hold at the library. I didn't know it was a graphic novel, and when I got it, I was so disappointed I almost put it right back on the shelf. I'm so glad I didn't, because this book was just so much fun! I thought it was a blast to read, and really enjoyed the sequel too, although not quite as much.

  2. I'm not a huge graphic novel reader, but I did love this one, and Calamity Jack.

    You're right, Jack is hilarious, and I love the steampunk future/Old West feel of the books.

  3. Lovely review Danya! I don't read many graphic novels, no scratch that, I've never read a graphic novel, but I love the idea of Rapunzel as a wild west heroine! And I think I'd really enjoy all the gorgeous illustrations, I would probably stare at them and forget to read:)

  4. I'm glad that you gave "Rapunzel's Revenge" a shot and enjoyed it! Yes, I think it is aimed for the younger crowd (it was located in the children's dept in both of my public libraries) which is why I think the dialogue was toned down. I'm not a big fan of westerns, but I really enjoyed it this book and it didn't feel out of place. I also hope to read "Calamity Jack" soon too.

  5. Shannon Hale is a fantastic author but I wouldn't tend to pick up graphic novels. Glad you chose to for the challenge because this does look good!

    Great challenge idea too :)

  6. I haven't ever read graphic novels but I think I'd love looking at the illustrations. I sometimes still flip through picture books just to see all the pretty pictures.

  7. I love the catchy title and cover of the book - Sounds like a fun little book for summer reading :)


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