17 Novels That Would Make Great Graphic Novels
Do you ever find yourself reading a novel and thinking: this would make for a magnificent graphic novel?
Well, I do. And while I enjoy novels for what they are, and read mostly non-illustrated fiction, some stories feel so graphic that I think they would be done (even more) justice with the help of a graphic adaptation.
Of course, adapting a novel into a graphic novel also means that part of the text is lost. But artwork can, very often, easily manage to convey a lot of what the novel tries to pass onto the reader.
In fact, I have previously put together a list of novels that have already been adapted into graphic novels, and every single one of them absolutely slays.
So, after some consideration, here is a very unabridged list of some books I would love to see converted into graphic novels, either because I think the narrative could profit from the adaptation, or because the story is so strong that some artwork thrown on top (and alongside) them could only make them into an even more extraordinary work of art.
It is worth noting that, of course, this list is biased, and it contains some of my favourite novels. But the ones below were not chosen at random. I thought extensively about them and why I’d like to see this adaptation, and I can only hope my wishes come true.
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Although this book, which speaks of gentrification, is labelled under thriller and mystery, it read to me almost as horror. Not because it is too graphic, but because all the way up to the last pages, it reads too true to life — and it is fucked up.
Because of how believable it is, and how visual most scenes are, a graphic adaptation would do well to encapsulate the most important parts of the book, and give the reader a great perception of what is actually happening.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
So, I may be basing my wishes here solely on the absolutely gorgeous cover of this book, but it is the story that I think could much benefit from a graphic adaptation.
There’s so much — and such interesting — cultural background in this book, and such vivid images, that I would be more than glad to be able to hold this book and consume it in yet another way.
Passing by Nella Larsen
Passing really focuses on the main point of the plot, without dwelling too much on things outside it.
I would love to see the main character’s considerations, but also the conversations about race — and how the characters convey that — with illustrations on the page.
For now, we have at least the Netflix series.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
I love books with ghosts, or at least books that contain characters you are not sure if they’re alive or dead — or something else.
McQuiston’s sapphic novel is filled with sweet moments between the characters — and at least one or two steamy ones — but New York City, the café where August works, the apartment she shares with other people, and all the strange ways in which the subway system seems to work for Jane, would be great with artwork included.
Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis
I love this book to no end. It is not just about a group of queer people who found each other — and themselves — amidst the Uruguayan dictatorship of the ’70s, it’s also about friendship and about surviving, and thriving, against the odds.
There are so many scenes in this book that almost make me feel like I am seeing what the author is trying to show us, as if I am there in this fictional world, and I would love to actually have the chance to see these places with images on the page.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
To be fair, Clap When You Land isn’t the only book by Acevedo that I find would do well in a graphic adaptation.
Between this one and Poet X, I only choose this one because it was my first book by Acevedo, and it holds a special place in my heart.
But I also love graphic novels with more than one POV, and I am sure this one would work amazingly.
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
When I first read this book, it frustrated me to no end. Which is the whole point.
As you turn the last page — and without giving away many spoilers — there isn’t a magical resolution, or any concrete and final outcome. And that is, unfortunately, the actual situation for many real innocent Black men like the one in the book.
However, and besides the frustration I felt in the face of injustice, the book seems to have stayed with me longer than I expected, and it’s one I can see working well as a graphic adaptation.
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
The descriptions of nature — the birds, the oceans, the fish — are so beautiful, and there is so much melancholy throughout this book, so much sadness, and longing, that I can almost picture in my mind what the graphic novel would look like.
It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I know the adaptation would only make the story pop up more.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
This is an old one and a favourite of many.
As I said above, I like stories when impossible beings come to life, and the major reason why I would like this book to become a graphic novel is to see what Death would look like in print: how it would move, how it would take space as the main narrator of the story, and how it would view the cruel world around it.
We Had To Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets
This is a book written originally in Dutch, which has been translated into English very recently.
It talks about the shenanigans of a group of people hired to screen violent and graphic images from the internet.
The book focuses mainly on one character, but it is really about the terrible things social media — and the World Wide Web — has brought with it, and how those who are assigned a job making these spaces safer are so often disregarded by those who hire them and not given the support they need.
I can see it making for a great adaptation, despite the fact that it is quite a short story.
Tender Is The Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica
Listen, don’t come for me.
I know that this book is extremely graphic and contains all of the trigger warnings we can think of, but I also think that such an on-point criticism of society would make for an amazing graphic novel, in the same ways 1984 and Animal Farm, for example, make.
This was one of my favorite books I read last year, because it is so raw and so bold.
Like every dystopia, it touches places that need to be touched so that we don’t forget to look in the mirror and recognise some tough truths. It’s an exaggeration of reality, for sure. But the roots are there, and we need to see them.
New Year by Juli Zeh
This is an intriguing book about childhood trauma, and how we process it as adults.
The book takes place on New Year’s Day in Lanzarote, when a German man on vacation with his family decides to go for a lone cycle ride early that morning.
As he reaches the top of the hill and stumbles into a house, he realises that there are memories he had lost access to which have started to resurface, triggered by something.
Because of the intricacies of the story, I think a graphic adaptation would make for a very interesting take.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Dia De Muertos. Need I say more?
This whole book gives me Halloween vibes, and when I think about it, shades of Autumn and beautiful lights come to my mind.
The cover design is already beautiful, I can only imagine what it would look like if the whole thing got illustrated. I’d get five copies. All for myself.
We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson
I seem to have a predilection for books with fucked up plot lines, because this is again a very favourite one.
It’s a classic, and I am sure it would make a great adaptation as well.
Imagine the same artwork as the one on this particular book cover throughout the book. I bet some people would poison their family for a copy. Or is it too soon to make this joke?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I should probably begin this blurb by first acknowledging that an illustrated edition — in fact, three — of this book already exists, and will be out in the world soon (November 2022, to be more precise).
But what good is to learn this when they’re limited editions, and the cheapest costs £295? Yes, pounds, you read that right.
When I heard about a The Night Circus illustrated novel a few months ago, I went wild! And then I saw the prices, and went wilder. But not, like, in a good way.
You can’t exactly call it accessible and, therefore, in my mind, the adaptation does not exist. But, I truly wish it did. You know, at a price that I could just pop into my local indie and get it.
And if you have read the book, you know why I so much want this. If you haven’t, oh, you must!
The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
This books seems to be a staple in lesbian culture, but I unfortunately found myself unable to finish it. I felt like the story kept dragging without getting to an important shift in the plot.
But, because it is staple of queer literature, and because I would like to give this story another try, I think a graphic adaptation would only have good things to offer this classic — it can already be considered a classic, right?
Solo Dance by Li Kotomi
I read an advanced reading copy of this book at the beginning of the year, and I honestly expected to see it doing the rounds on socials more often.
It speaks of queer love, trauma, emigration, and death. I think it would make for a fantastic graphic novel, especially when it comes to showing us what the main character sees, and what she feels and tries to convey to the reader.
Feelings of loneliness and searching for belonging would be very well portrayed with illustrations.
I’m curious to learn what would be your choices, if you had the power to turn some novels into graphic novels. Make sure you find us on socials and come tells us all about it!
Before you ere are a few more posts I think you will enjoy: