Monday, February 25, 2008

The art of reading aloud

Twelve-year-old Meggie lives surrounded by books, and her father, Mo, is a bookbinder. Her mother disappeared years earlier; her father, Mo, misses her more than Meggie does (she was only three at the time and barely remembers her). Meggie's life is a bit unconventional - Mo travels a great deal and takes Meggie out of school to accompany him. But books have always been Meggie's company - books and her father, two things she knows she can depend upon.

Only suddenly it appears she can depend on neither of them. A mysterious stranger appears one stormy night, and Mo sends Meggie to bed with no explanation. Meggie of course creeps out of her room to eavesdrop, and she overhears them talking about someone named Capricorn who has discovered where they live. Before she knows it, they've packed up and are heading to her aunt's house, ostensibly so her father can repair books in her aunt's collection. Maggie tries to get Mo to tell her what is going on, what they are running from, but Mo refuses. Instead, she gets some information from the mysterious stranger, Dustfinger, who tells her that Capricorn is the blackest villain ever, and that he would do anything to get what he wants - in fact, he simply takes pleasure from terrifying people. And, for some mysterious reason, he's after Mo and Meggie.

It turns out that Mo has the ability, when he reads aloud, to read characters out of their books - they suddenly appear in the real world - but something from the real world disappears into the book, as a sort of way of keeping things equal on both sides. Mo doesn't know what will come out or what will go in. Capricorn wants him so he can use this ability to his own end.

I loved the concept of the book, and the fact that the characters (particularly Dustfinger and Aunt Elinor) are interesting and complex. I found that that plot meandered quite a bit, and I felt a bit frustrated with Maggie, Mo and Elinor as they bumbled here and there and never really pulled it together to come up with a way of fighting the bad guys. After all, they had the upper hand, possessing the power of reading characters from books, yet they seemed only to react to events initiated by Capricorn and his henchmen. It also seemed that, despite the talk of Capricorn being so horrific and evil, he was rather weak and ineffectual - his henchmen were not very bright, rarely managed to carry out an order, and as far as creepy bad guys go, Capricorn was simply not quite there for me.

However, despite the lack of a tightly-written, taut narrative, I found Maggie to be an endearing heroine, determined to the end to be strong and protect those she loved. Although this is the first volume of a trilogy, there is a satisfying conclusion to the book, with a few loose ends that, no doubt, will play a role in the second volume.

Books in the Inkheart trilogy:

  • Inkheart
  • Inkspell
  • Inkdeath (forthcoming)
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (The Chicken House, 2003)

This book is #2 of 10 for Molly's Personal Reading Challenge.

Other blogger reviews:
A Striped Armchair
The Bookling
Not Enough Bookshelves
Word for Teens

13 comments:

  1. I've started reading this but I had to put it aside. I was too busy and the writing was too long-winded. But I want to go back to it,when I'm in a quieter state of mind. Especially since the film is coming out soon!!

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  2. I have this one on my pile for this year and I'm looking forward to it. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it :) Both your review and Eva's make me think that even though it probably won't be a life-changing reading experience, it will definitely be a lot of fun.

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  3. Valentina - it does meander, but I think if you're prepared for it, you'll enjoy it when you try again. A friend of mine tried listening to the audiobook and gave up for the same reason. I've heard matters improve in the second book, though!

    Nymeth - I think when you have more realistic expectations, it tends to be a more positive experience. Mine might have been a little high, but yes, I did enjoy it!

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  4. Oh, I got this book yesterday! What a coincidence! Cant wait to read it.

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  5. This is a great book. I can't wait for the movie!

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  6. I really want to read this series and I am looking forward to the film coming out as well. I am not sure I will get around to it this year, but definitely next year if I don't.

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  7. Ana - that's funny! I hope you enjoy it.

    Ladytink & Rhinoa - I'm excited about the movie, too. It's fun having all these great children's books turned into movies these days. I wonder if it's because of the success of the HP books and films?

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  8. i loved both books!! I am anxiously waiting the release of the 3rd book ...and of the movie, which they delayed the release of!!!

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  9. Deslily - it will be fun to see how they adapt it to the big screen. IMDB says it will be released in April, so that's not too much longer. Or has it been delayed beyond that? I was unable to find a release date for book #3, just 2008 - I guess it won't be for a while.

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  10. WOW! that sounds like a ton of fun. i'll have to add that to my "to read" list.
    sorry about the villain. maybe he'll grow evil-er as the series progresses.

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  11. Yeah, there were serveral villains, and I kept getting them mixed up. That can't be good! I looked on imdb, though, and I think the actors they picked are just perfect for the parts. Wanna come with us when we go (or give up on movies altogether and buy the big screen tv?) :-)

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  12. I hope I can remember the plot when the next one finally comes out. My memory is shot, but I remember enjoying these books and want to see the movie.

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  13. Framed - I know what you mean about forgetting - I do the same thing, and then I end up having to reread the first one to know what's going on in the next. I'm trying to wait until at least two books of a series or trilogy are out before starting on them, but it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes the sequel comes as a surprise, and sometimes I just can't wait! Lately I've been listening to them instead of rereading them, which is working out nicely. :-)

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