Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Inkheart" by Cornelia Funke

I first heard of this book when they made a movie version in 2008 -- my friend ED was super excited about it because she loved the book.  But it wasn't until The Book Chewers selected it to be their first Book of the Month that I finally got it out of the library and read it.

I suppose a quick synopsis would be in order, so I'll get that out of the way first.  Meggie's father, Mo, repairs books.  Her mother disappeared when Meggie was three, and we learn that she was actually sucked into a book in exchange for a book character coming to our world.  Mo can read people and things out of books, you see, though he never does so again after losing his wife.  But then some very nasty characters from a book called Inkheart come knocking, Mo and Meggie go on the run to evade them, and it's all a series of captures and escapes from there on.

I'm going to be very honest here:  I did not love Inkheart.  I liked it well enough to finish it, and I'm glad that I did, as I liked the last hundred pages or so the best of all.  But I just didn't love the book as a whole.

Why?  It's well-written, it's imaginative and original, it's got a suspenseful plot, it even has a sad and lonely character.  So why didn't I like it more than I did?

Because I didn't want to be friends with the characters.  I did a long post here on my other blog on this subject, but basically, for me to really like or love a book/movie/show, I have to want to be friends with the characters, to want to hang out with them while they go about their adventures or daily business or whatever.  That's what draws me to a story.  I will forgive plot holes, pedestrian writing, bad logic -- almost anything, just as long as I feel drawn to the characters in this particular way.  And I really didn't want to be friends with anyone here.

I could almost fall in love with Dustfinger, though.  He's sad and lonely, he's got the unrequited love thing going on, and he's very sweet.  But he's also not helpful, and unhelpfulness guarantees that I won't love a character.  So I only like him.

But Meggie, Mo, Elinor, and Fenoglio... nope, don't like them much.  And it really boils down to the fact that Meggie wants to be able to read people out of books like Mo can.  Even after she's seen how much sorrow it causes, lost her own mother this way, seen how very unhappy Dustfinger is being stuck in a world that's not his own... still, she wants to be able to do it too.  I found that very mean and selfish, to be honest.  Mo I do like better, as he didn't know what consequences his ability could have until people started appearing and disappearing.  And Elinor is helpful in her own way, and very generous at the end, so I like her okay.  But Fenoglio is too vain and bossy.

So.  Is this a bad book?  Nope.  Would I recommend it?  Yup, if you like YA adventure and fantasy.  And I still intend to see the movie, as it has Brendan Fraser (yum!), Paul Bettany (aww!), and Andy Serkis (woo!) in it.

If this was a movie, I would rate it:  PG-13 for violence and disturbing images.

15 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting! I've thought about reading this one but haven't decided--thanks for your input. :)

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    1. I know, it's something I'd thought about reading for a long time, but just took forever to get around to. Weird, huh?

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  2. I tried the movie and couldn't finish it. Which is crazy cause it seems right up my alley! But I couldn't be tempted to finish watching for some reason (I forget why now. It's been too long!). However, that's been a few years ago and maybe I just needed some time? I haven't read the book either, but you've made me curious whether I'd like it or no. Hmmm. This will require some thought.

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    1. I picked up the movie for $5 a while ago, and now I'll have to watch it since I've read it. I have two friends who loved the movie, so we shall see!

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  3. I watched this movie not too long ago and really liked it. A nice adventure romp with an interesting bookish background. I found myself comparing Inkheart's 'bookworld' with what Jasper Fforde described about his 'bookworld'!

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    1. Actually, I think that was part of my problem while reading this -- I did occasionally think of Jasper Fforde's "Bookworld," and of how the characters there knew they were characters and could jump back home when they wanted, and that made me so much happier than in Inkheart, where they (especially Dustfinger and Resa) were stuck.

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    2. Sometimes I found just that fact a bit dissapointing (for lack of a better world) in the Fforde's 'bookworld', because somehow the characters knowing they were characters and sometimes being quite different persons in their 'of' time, made me a bit sad, because the characters from books I love so much are made less 'real'. Hope you understand my rambling reply...

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    3. I can see that. Maybe I'm just used to having characters behave one way on the page and another in my head because the ones I write do that all the time. I'll have imaginary arguments with my characters, trying to get them to behave and do what they're supposed to in the scene I'm writing, or I'll ask them what they're going to do next so I can be prepared.

      And so to me, in a way, characters sometimes feel like actors, that they play out the scenes of the story, but behave differently off-page. Not sure if that makes any sense, lol.

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  4. Ah, interesting! I've heard many authors say they talk to the characters in their head, but never actually that the characters are doing things differently from what their authors intended. More that the characters tell the authors their story. I'm not an author, so I've never had either :-S

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    1. Maybe I just write exceptionally strong-willed characters? Hee. I have a character sulking right now because he's going to die in the next chapter, but he doesn't want to.

      When I've got a story or novel in my head, I sort of see it unspool like a movie, one I can pause at will, adjust camera angles on, improve dialog, etc. As I write it, it sometimes plays out like I first thought, and sometimes just boings off in a different direction and does so many awesome things that I didn't expect, but that were lingering in my subconscious just waiting for a chance to be cool.

      I'm not sure that made any sense. It's late and I should go to bed...

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  5. That's a great look into your 'writer's head'. If I would be a character and had to die in the next chapter, I would sulk as well!

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    1. Yeah, me too. I don't really blame him. A couple months ago, he nearly had me convinced to let him just get wounded and live, but that changed the whole ending and... nope, he's gotta go. (I say that now -- I am notoriously soft-hearted toward my characters, with a great tendency to relent and not kill them off. I have a writer friend who says she wants to take bets on whether or not I let him live, hee.)

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    2. Randomly re-read this a year and a half later, and hahaha! That character totally lives. Talked me completely out of killing him.

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  6. Great review. I liked the movie and have often contemplated the book.

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    1. Thanks! I picked up the movie for $5 a while back, and will watch it one of these days...

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