(Book Review) Paul the Apostle


Reviewed by: Joshua Henreckson, a professional writing major at Taylor University and freelance writer for The Aboite Independent.paul-image

 


Introduction

Title: Paul the Apostle

Author: Ben Avery

Illustrator/Colorist/Letterer: Mark Harmon

Publisher: Beartruth Collective

Publication Date: 2016

Format: Graphic Novel, hardcover

Length: 138 pages

OVERVIEW

Introducing children to biblical stories is a tricky task. The story should be exciting to pull them in, but there also is accuracy to consider. What is the proper balance that will engage kids and also teach them faithfully? Paul the Apostle—written by Ben Avery and illustrated and colored by Mark Harmon—tries to find a unique resolution to that dilemma. Paul the Apostle is a graphic novel (oversized comic book) set in an alternate reality in which Jesus comes to a futuristic, science-fiction world. Settings and technology look bright and industrial, while the characters are a motley assortment of colorful alien races. The story, though, sticks very close to the book of Acts. Names of people and places are the same. Paul is often portrayed using the words of the actual, historical/biblical Paul (references are included in these cases). It’s an interesting concept that, if nothing else, feels fresh and sincere. So does Paul the Apostle find the balance it strives for? Yes and no. As a retelling of the biblical story, it certainly succeeds. If this is what the readers (or their parents) want most, the book is certainly worth picking up. Whether the story and art is as engaging as possible, though, is up to debate. The art is the strongest facet of this graphic novel. It is colorful and distinct and full of characters and backdrops that were clearly drawn with care and attention to detail. A few panels are strikingly powerful, either for their emotional punch or their visual creativity. Ultimately, though, both the story and the visuals are somewhat held back by the adaptation. The book of Acts is an historical and theological narrative, not a tale of adventure. Avery’s writing adds some conventions of strong fiction and plays around with the plot enough to sustain the reader’s interest, but the overall effect of the narrative is a bit dense and meandering. Unfortunately, this translates to the art. Panels sometimes feel stuffed onto the page, and the art can feel overwhelmed by speech bubbles that take up half the available space at times. Paul the Apostle will likely be visually engaging enough for younger readers, but older readers may lose interest rather quickly.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5)

3 stars

Suggested Audience

Ages 8 to 12, Will appeal most to younger readers, but has some brief dark or violent moments (all of which actually are present in the biblical account).

Christian Impact

Paul the Apostle adapts the story of Paul for a young audience. It is a faithful introduction to the biblical story of Paul’s conversion and ministry, even including some of Paul’s own words and the relevant references.


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About ECLA Web Team

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals. This account is managed by the ECLA Web Team.

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