Effective use of light and shadow in the art give this graphic adaptation of the 2003 novel a properly spooky look, but it reads overall more like a summary than a developed story.
Though sticking to a sketchy iteration of the original’s plot rather than the somewhat altered film version (no cave monster, sorry), the tale is told in a visual, cinematic way with an admixture of quick reaction shots and wordless action sequences that allow readers to race along almost as fast as they can turn the pages. The terse exchanges between characters use DuPrau’s words, but as dialogue they sometimes come across as stiff: “…if I go, I must leave Poppy, mustn’t I?” frets Lina. “How can I take her on a journey of such danger?” Still, Asker’s penumbral scenes underground and broad, grassy Eden above are strongly atmospheric and depict both settings and the clearly delineated cast (particularly the grossly corpulent Mayor) in tellingly crisp detail.
No substitute for the original, but an agreeable alternative for younger or less-able readers. (Graphic science fiction. 8-10)