September 08, 2007

Review: Inkheart

by Cornelia Funke
534 pg.
First Sentence:
Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain. Many years later, Meggie had only to close her eyes and she could still hear it, like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane.

So, I almost forgot to write a review of Inkheart. How could I possibly have forgotten? Let me explain.

At the beginning of summer, in June but before we started swimming lessons, I started reading Inkheart to the kiddos, about 2-3 chapters each afternoon. The plan was to continue reading a few chapters each day at the pool. But when Goldilocks was offered a scholarship to join swim team we lost our free time and never did read it. So all through the summer I talked about reading it daily but we read for maybe 1 day in every 2 weeks. It was after swim team was over in August that we finally finished the book. By then it had lost a lot of it's magic.

This is the story of Meggie, the 12 year old daughter of a book restorer named Mo. When the mysterious Dustfinger enters their lives things will never be the same again. As the cover indicates, there are fairies, creatures from other worlds and the burning of books. There are characters made of pure evil, and those with pure hearts. And right in the middle of it all is one brave little girl who must try to conquer her own fears and save everything she holds dear.

The things we loved about the book were the characters, the clear imagery, the suspense right from the beginning, the allusion to books, and the storyline. That sounds like everything doesn't it? Well, we might have loved everything if it hadn't taken us so long to get through it. But with a whopping 500+ pages it would have taken us a while to get through anyway.

What I didn't care for was that the suspense had a strong grip through the entire book. It doesn't let up very often. At some point you need to rest to calm down your adrenaline. Another qualm I had was that the bad guys were so thoroughly evil that there was not a single shred of good or even ambiguity to any of them. It also had some minor cuss words that were repeated frequently. Since I don't generally speak that way in front of my kids I had to edit. If given the option again I would have handed the book to the oldest child to read to himself instead of reading it aloud with the 5 and 9 year olds in the room.

One last thing before I'm through, I really did like the book a lot. It was an imaginative story with a lot of great twists and turns. Anyone over the age of 12 would have a great time with it. My situation was set up in just the right way to detract from the enjoyment of it. I regret that. But I will reread it to myself in a year or two and see how it holds up to a solid reading through.


Ana S. said...

I've heard good things about this one, but like you I like books that have moments of quietness in the middle of the suspense and danger, and I like the villains to be more complex and ambiguous. Still, it sounds like an engaging story, and I want to read it someday.

Framed said...

I like both of the books in this series. I think it answers a fantasy many of us harbor about being part of the book we read.

Petunia said...

Nymeth-I think this is one you would like a lot. There are probably more resting areas than I can think of right now but it was bad timing as a read aloud for this family.

Framed-it makes one think twice about wishing reality was like it is in a book. I may or may not read the second book. Maybe after I've reread the first one.

Cath said...

I keep picking this up in the library and then putting it back. I just take it home next time...

Another series for that age group I would recommend is The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. 'Magyk' is the first and only one I've read but I gather from my daughter that they're all excellent. I don't *remember* any swearing and it does have periods of rest... I completely agree about that point you make. Of course, you may already have read it and in that case - ignore me. :-)

Petunia said...

Cath-thanks for the recommendation. I have seen it around but haven't picked it up yet; but my 14 year old loves fantasy series so I'll just have to let him know about it.