Thoughts on The Dragonet Prophecy, the graphic novel
Okay. Wow. I just finished reading the graphic novel adaptation of the first title in the Wings of Fire series, The Dragonet Prophecy. I've got a suuuuper mixed bag of thoughts on this book. Brief disclaimer that it's a little past 1 AM as I'm writing this, so my thoughts might not be totally coherent!
Spoiler warnings, obviously. This is a review, sort of, but it's one you should only read after you've checked out the graphic novel for yourself, or at least once you've read the original novel.
First off, the big thing in a graphic novel: The art. I'd already seen some photos of the book before, and honestly, they didn't really impress me. The way Mike Holmes drew dragons with the eye creases seemed like it would be kind of weird to me - like the dragonets would all look sort of older than they actually are. But everything changed once
the fire nation attacked I actually got and read the book. The artist's style actually didn't bother me at all - it's actually pretty neat! The coloring and the backgrounds were all really cool, too. It was really great to see the places of Pyrrhia brought to life like this, and I was a little pleasantly-surprised to find many of the areas looked quite a lot like I'd always imagined them in my head. The action was generally drawn well too, but I had a little trouble keeping up with the action a couple times, especially in the arena, although it was pretty late when I was reading.
(Actually, a little extra comment on the pacing of action: Things really did happen more quickly than it seems like they should've. Early in the book, when Morrowseer visits the dragonets' cave, it feels like Clay sort of out of the middle of nowhere. Tsunami gets whacked by the NightWing's tail, and then Clay is attacking. But the more significant case is during the arena fight when Starflight and Tsunami are pitted against each other. One panel, they're hugging; the next, Scarlet unleashes the IceWings; there's one panel of Tsunami and Starflight eyeing them, then one where Clay cries to be let in to help. The very next pane, Morrowseer and his NightWings are flying overhead. I suppose it makes sense that so much more time is spent on Morrowseer's confrontation - the next five-ish pages are all that - but the really fast pace was a little tough to follow for me.)
Now onto the real, most important part of any novel: The story. Oh my gosh everything from here on is probably very opinionated, but.. yech.
To be as absolutely blunt as my thoughts are, this graphic novel does not convey the emotion of the original book. In the original novel, Tui really shows the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, Clay. When he and Tsunami are spying on their guardians, you can really feel how nervous he is. That seems kind of absent from the graphic novel. The arena doesn't have the same sense of hopelessness and dread it should. The prisoners joining into the "The dragonets are coming" song just doesn't have the impact it's supposed to. I'll quote a couple paragraphs from the original novel (they're at the end of chapter 21):
[Clay] picked up the pace a little the fourth time around, although the notes still had that eerie, plaintive sound. Even if this didn't get Peril's attention, the singing filled him with a wild, hopeful feeling. It seemed like every prisoner in the sky was singing now. He was pretty sure he could even hear Tsunami's croaking voice and Starflight's pure tenor.
This song meant something, even to dragons hardened on the battlefield and in the arena. They believed in the dragonets and the prophecy. For the first time, Clay's dreams of doing something big and legendary and helpful seemed like they belonged to this world and his imagination.
Page 128 in the graphic novel. The effect of this scene is that Burn and Scarlet scream for the singing to stop and then summon the three imprisoned dragonets to Peril's room, used as a confined cell for them. This progresses the story but does not mean anything, it doesn't emotionally affect Clay or the prisoners or the reader at all. And that is the core of my view on this graphic novel, because every scene is like that. Everything furthers the plot, but not the emotional, difficult, complicated adventure the dragonets are essentially forced through. Everything just happens; there isn't any feeling.
This is all reflected in the actual, on-paper story of the graphic novel, as compared to the original. The graphic novel was impressively good at not cutting out anything critical to the plot; it didn't take any shortcuts like that. However, almost all interactions between the characters were cut out. In the original story, nearly at the very start, Sunny is developed as someone who's interested by smaller, relatively humble things - like the weird crab she caught in the river. It's shown that she really is treated as the little sister by most of the dragonets; Clay was the only one who was also interested in the crab. And when Sunny shared the crab with Clay, the relationship between the two was built, showing Clay would really listen to her when nobody else would; and obviously this builds Clay's character too. This scene is totally missing from the graphic novel. It's reduced to the single line "I don't think everything is exciting! But you guys don't think enough things are exciting." - and Clay totally ignores Sunny saying that, immediately getting straight to the point of asking about her thoughts on running away from the cave.
This happens again with when Clay and Tsunami fly out of the waterfall cave, also close to the start of their adventure. Tsunami's wing got dislocated when she got out of the chain, so when she leaped out to fly, she ended up falling down. But Clay doesn't even notice for a couple moments - and he's so panicky when he does realize it! He shoots down to catch her fall, and barely manages it. Once they've landed (well, crashed) and recollected themselves, Tsunami thinks she can fix her wing injury herself, and she tries, but she just ends up hurting herself more. With some convincing, she ends up accepting Clay's help, and he shoves it back in place. This is such an important scene for Tsunami, because it shows her realizing that her friends can help her out, too; that they can all work together. This scene is totally missing from the graphic novel.
Also, Clay and Tsunami both are pretty in awe of the cave at the end of the river, and they explore and experience it together. They sort of bond together in that moment. The two friends having their first true glimpse of the outside world - it seems like it could be considered the start of the dragonets' adventures... All that is missing from the graphic novel, though.
And at the very end of the original book, once the dragonets all escape from the arena, there's a whole brief arc where Glory goes missing, and everyone's frustrated and arguing over how and why she left, but really everyone's just worried about her.. I won't go into all the details, but it's a critical point of development for all the dragonets, really, but especially Glory. The scene is totally missing from the graphic novel.
I could go on; Peril's interactions with Clay were all cut short and just didn't have near as much depth as they did in the original novel, for example. But I've written rather a lot and it's nearly 2:30. Thanks for reading all this; I just wanted to let out my thoughts on the story, and I think this mostly gets it across. Sorry for being a little harsh on the book! - I just didn't want to filter myself at all, and I didn't. So.. such concludes my take on the graphic novel of The Dragonet Prophecy. Thanks for listening!