1984: The Graphic Novel

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Aug. 2021. 224p. adapted by Fido Nesti. ISBN 9780358359920. $22. GRAPHIC NOVELS
In 1984, Great Britain has been renamed Airstrip One, a small province in one of three perpetually warring totalitarian super-states that rule the entire world. Mass surveillance is the norm for denizens of Airstrip One, as is the terror of being accused of disloyalty to the ruling party and its enigmatic leader, Big Brother. Nevertheless, after acquiring a small diary, Winston Smith begins recording his memories, thoughts, and feelings—including his displeasure at working for the Ministry of Truth, where he’s responsible for revising historical records to suit Big Brother’s needs—and observations about how the Party encourages ignorance and isolation. When a woman named Jane unexpectedly pledges her love for him, she and Winston begin a passionate affair—despite the Party’s ban against sex for any purpose other than reproduction. Soon, the pair are drawn into contact with an underground resistance movement; following a shocking betrayal, their love is tested as they face interrogation within the windowless confines of the Ministry of Love.
VERDICT Brazilian illustrator Fido Nesti employs a muted color palette and a tight nine-panel layout to stress the gloomy, hopelessly claustrophobic existence of those pinned under Big Brother’s thumb. An excellent adaptation of the novel.
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