The social commentary continues in renowned artist Peter Kuper's dramatically vivid re-creation of Upton Sinclair's classic novel The Jungle. Kuper, who has also done graphic-novel adaptations of Franz Kafka's stories and novellas, has a frenzied, almost violent visual style, full of movement and color and untidy emotions. The climactic scene, a workers' riot, fills two pages with a spectacular explosion of shapes expressing in no uncertain terms the chaos that had built up inside the main character, the immigrant Jurgis.
Becky Ohlsen writes from Portland, Oregon. Copyright 2005 BookPage Reviews.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2005 August/September
Jurgis and his family have immigrated to America from Lithuania, settled in Chicago, and found jobs in the meatpacking plant. The family seems to be living the American dream: having their own home, and a means of support, even if the work is hard and disgusting. Peter Kuper's dark, colored, cartoon-style illustrations, framed in black, bring to life Sinclair's original work and highlight the atrocities perpetuated upon the Rudkus family. The images are stark and accurately depict Jurgis' plunge from hopeful happiness, to agony of loss, to his downfall and revelation. This dramatic format will appeal to many reluctant male readers, with its gruesome illustrations of the meatpacking industry, such as the scenes of a worker falling into one of the vats of lard and Jurgis' young brother-in-law being eaten by rats. It contains a biographical summary of Upton Sinclair, which explains that the original novel was intended to enlist support in the socialist movement, but instead brought about changes in the meatpacking industry. While the graphic novel contains very minimal text, hopefully it will serve as a link to the actual novel. Recommended. Heather Loy, Media Specialist, Wagener (South Carolina)-Salley High School © 2005 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 December #2
Originally published in 1991 as part of a short-lived revival of the Classics Illustrated line, this adaptation of Sinclair's muckraking socialist novel succeeds because of its powerful images. When Kuper initially drew it, he was already a well-known left-wing comics artist. His unenviable task is condensing a 400-page novel into a mere 48 pages, and, inevitably, much of the narrative drama is lost. Kuper replaces it, however, with unmatched pictorial drama. The story follows Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkis and his family as they are eaten up and spit out by capitalism (represented by Chicago's packing houses). Kuper uses an innovative full-color stencil technique with the immediacy of graffiti to give Sinclair's story new life. When Jurgis is jailed for beating the rich rapist Connor, a series of panels suffused with a dull, red glow draw readers closer and closer to Jurgis's face, until they see that the glint in his eye is fire. Jurgis, briefly prosperous as a strong-arm man for the Democratic machine, smokes a cigar; the smoke forms an image of his dead son and evicted family. Perhaps most visually dazzling is the cubist riot as strikers battle police amid escaping cattle. Kuper infuses this 1906 novel with the energy of 1980s-era street art and with his own profoundly original graphic innovation, making it a classic in its own right. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2005 February
In this arresting and visually stunning graphic novel, artist Kuper adapts Sinclair's hugely influential novel set in the stockyards of Chicago. Young Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus has come to America with his family in search of prosperity. Instead the Rudkus family is taken advantage of by a corrupt system that exploits workers. After the loss of several jobs, prison stays, and the death of his wife and son, Jurgis falls victim to despair and drink, until he finds hope and purpose in the union movement Kuper does an outstanding job of fitting Sinclair's dense novel into a slim and cogent graphic format. As a matter of necessity, some characters from the original text are removed here, and others are given a less prominent role, but the basic plot outline and the spirit of the book remain the same. Kuper's artwork, angular and vividly colored, does an exceptional job of bringing to life turn-of-the-century stockyards and tenements. Although this graphic novel would appeal to fans of historical fiction as well as those interested in the labor movement, getting them to read it could be a problem. Neither Sinclair nor Kuper are big draws, but those teens who can be persuaded to pick up this volume will be richly rewarded.-Meredith Jenson-Benjamin 4Q 2P S A/YA G Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.