The graphic novel “Gatsby” by Jeremy Holt is a modern interpretation of the classic “Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a novel I distinctly recall reading during my college years, leaving me in awe of the prose. And that’s really the allure of Fitzgerald’s work for countless readers – it’s not solely the story but the way the author weaves words to narrate the tale of a man who wholly reinvents himself to win the heart of the woman he loves. To recreate the charm of a text-heavy book within the format of a graphic novel presents a formidable challenge. Jeremy Holt does manage to make “Gatsby” stand out a bit with its futuristic concepts and a protagonist who is like a mash between Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook.
Jeremy Holt’s “Gatsby” follows Singaporean student Lu Zhao, who is spending the summer at his wealthy cousin Tommy’s mansion, where he meets Tommy girlfriend Dahlia and best-friend Alexis. When a new billionaire neighbor hosts a lavish party, the group is intrigued to find who the mystery host is. And thus unfolds a tale of wealth, drugs, love and obsession. And to make things intriguing, the story opens with Lu Zhao being investigated by the police for an unknown case.
I liked the artwork by Felipe Cunha, it’s quite like your regular DC/Marvel comic-books, with darker warm tones dominating the panels. However, the character designs for Lu Zhao and Tommy Zhao were almost similar, especially after Lu gets a makeover, making it easy to get confused between the two cousins through the story. So some more variation in the character illustrations would’ve made the reading experience richer.
Even though the graphic novel is 189 pages long, I felt that the characters didn’t have enough space to develop or that they simply weren’t interesting. Except for Lu Zhao, who is portrayed as a middle-class kid, everyone else seems to exude privilege, residing in their own drug-fueled, materialistic worlds that are hardly relatable. Additionally, the fact that all the characters are 18-19 years old makes the Gatsby-like romance feel somewhat juvenile. In this novel, the Gatsby character met his love interest when they were just 14 years old and never saw each other again. The investigative part of the story, where a group of characters is questioned by the police, adds no substance to the tale and wouldn’t make a difference if it were entirely removed. If it weren’t for the vivid artwork, “Gatsby” would have been a challenging read.
If it weren’t for the vivid artwork, “Gatsby” would’ve been a challenge to read. It took me two days to finish the graphic novel, even though it can be easily finished in under an hour or two by regular readers.
Rating: 2.5 on 5.
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