Reading Albert Einstein: The Poetry of Real by Marwan Kahil is is the first time I’ve delved into reading a biography that is also a graphic novel. Illustrated by Manuel Garcia Inglesias, it’s actually a pretty beautiful work. I’ve honestly been fairly conflicted on how I would rate and review this since reading it. On the one hand, I love this idea of presenting a biography in a graphic novel format. On the other, I’d be remiss if I did not admit that this is rather a difficult way to do write one.
So Much Text
As a whole, the worst thing about this book is how excessively wordy it is. It’s nearly impossible to read in an e-format, so you may as well save yourself the trouble and just buy the book if you’re interested in reading it. Multiple pages are filled with long monologues, told from the perspective of Einstein himself. And it’s not that this is bad, exactly, but rather that it doesn’t match the format. In general, part of the purpose of a graphic novel is to decrease the amount of text by turning to mostly dialogue.
Dialogue, then, is not meant to be incredibly wordy. It’s not meant to fill large amounts of space on the page. Thus, when done in this book it resulted in a massive amount of telling in a book that was 100% meant to show. In attempting to encompass a great stretch of Einstein’s life, the book turned to lengthy descriptions from the mouth of Einstein that end up feeling incredibly distracting.
And sure, I get that there is a lot of information this book is trying to present to its readers. But, at that point, wouldn’t it be better to just break this book into multiple volumes?
In general, the artwork is pretty amazing. Like the rest of the book, it is incredibly detailed. In the same vein of the dialogue, I feel like it does err on the side of being too much at times. You can tell even by looking at the cover the level of detail that went into it. I have to applaud the illustrator for precisely how detailed he manages to get. That’s not an easy feat. And while I’ll admit that I did really enjoy the artwork, the level of detail in this area is also somewhat distracting.
I’m not sure whether the author and illustrator intended for this to be a book read by people new to Einstein’s life or who only had a vague understanding of him. In general, I think it might be more suited to those who know a little and are very intrigued to know more. For anyone just vaguely interested, I don’t imagine the level of detail will keep them engaged.
I do feel somewhat torn on how to rate this. I enjoyed the book and I learned some new things. But I also feel that a good majority of it was difficult to get through and far too wordy. I’m sure that there could have been a variety of ways to rework this biography to make it feel lass like everything was being thrown in our faces. Multiple volumes would have been one way. In fact, I wish this were the case.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.