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Inkheart (thoughts)

February 1, 2008

I have a bloggy and a personal milestone today: I passed the 10,000 visitor mark since I moved to WordPress today (yay!), and I finally submitted my application to grad school. Now comes the waiting game, when my nails progressively shorten. At least it has rolling admissions, so I only have to wait two to four weeks! And I can finally go back to reading guilt-free, hehe. Now on to the review!

Mythopoeic Award ChallengeI read Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart in one sitting-it was so much fun!  And since it’s aimed at a younger audience (as my librarian rather snottily pointed out when I put it on hold….”But that’s a children’s book”), I didn’t even have to stay up past my bedtime to finish it. :)  On the other hand, this month I’ve also read The Golden Compass and The Book of Lost Things, which make Inkheart look very simple…it doesn’t have any of the moral complexities explored in those two: the good are very good and the bad are very bad and the reader always knows exactly who ought to win.  But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

Inkheart focuses on Meggie, a twelve-year-old girl who lives with her father, Mo (that’s what she calls him) and a ton of books.  No, really: check out this description:

Meggie tugged him along the corridor so impatiently that he stubbed his toe on ap ile of books, which was hardly surprising. Stacks of books were piled high all over the house-not just arranged in neat rows on bookshelves, the way other people kept them, oh no! The books in Mo and Meggie’s house were stacked under tables, on chairs, in the corners of the rooms. There were books in the kitchen and books in the lavatory. Books on the TV set and in the closet, small piles of books, tall piles of books, books thick and thin, books old and new. They welcomed Meggie to breakfast with invitingly opened pages; they kept boredom at bay when the weather was bad. And sometimes you just fell over them.

Funke obviously understands book love. ;) Mo is a ‘book doctor’ (he rebinds them) and he and Meggie have an idyllic relationship until a mysterious man with a funny name (Dustfinger) shows up at their door, talking about a book and hinting at a Very Bad Man. The next morning, Mo wakes Meggie up early for a fast move to her aunt’s house in Italy, but Dustfinger stops them and ends up coming along.

Aunt Elinor is also a book lover, but of a very different kind;: she lives in a big castle, and here are Meggie’s thoughts on seeing it:

There were no haphazard piles lying around as they did at home. Every book obviously had its place. But where other peopl ehave wallpaper, pictures, or just an empty wall, Elinor had bookshelves. The shelves were white and went right up to the ceiling in the entrace hall through which she had first led them but in the next room and the corridor beyond it the shelves were as black as the tiles on the floor.
“These books,” annouced Elinor with a dismissive gesture as they passed the closely ranked spines, “have accumulated over the years. They’re not particiularly valuable, mostly of mediocre quality, nothing out of the ordinary…

Her special books are in her library, protected by state-of-the-art buglary system. Yes, Elinor is a book collector, one might even say horder, who values her books much more than any people.

So, eventually we learn that Mo has an enemy: Capricorn, who will do whatever it takes to get his hands on a book Mo’s been hiding called Inkheart. When Mo reads aloud, amazing things happen, and one night nine years earlier, Mo accidently read Capricorn and Dustfinger (and another guy) out of the book (this is also when his wife disappeared). We never find out how Mo might have acquired this talent, and since otherwise they live in contemporary Europe, and it’s certainly not a common skill, I think this book has just a touch of magic, rather than full-blown fantasy. The rest of the book centers around Mo, Meggie, and Elinor’s struggle with Capricorn and his gang: I don’t really want to give too much away.

What I thought was most interesting was the contrast between different book lovers, and how each character’s relationship with books changes over the course of the novel. I can’t talk too much about it without giving away some major spoilers, but if you’ve read the book too, leave a comment and we’ll talk through e-mail! :) The plot itself felt like it dragged out a bit, but it was fun to be in a book lover’s paradise, so I’ll forgive Funke. My library has the sequel, Inkspell, but I’m not sure when I’ll read it. I don’t think that Funke’s style is particurlarly impressive (although that might be the translator) and there are some things that nagged at me throughout (like why the Germans and Italians could communicate with each other without any problems…last I checked the EU hadn’t adopted Esperanza!), but the magic of books is definitely contained within. For those who don’t mind children’s books, I bet you’ll have a lot of fun with this one!

Other Book Bloggers’ Reviews:
Susan (You Can Never Have Too Many Books)

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2008 11:07 pm

    Huge congrats on both of your milestones! Those are awesome! I haven’t even started my grad school application yet and I’m so overwhelmed just thinking about it….getting those letters of recommendation and all…phew…

    Inkheart has been sitting patiently on my shelf for awhile and I’m finally going to read it this year! The movie’s coming out soon too. Should be interesting. Your review makes me even more excited about it. I love any book that pays homage to book lovers!

  2. musingsfromthesofa permalink
    February 2, 2008 7:11 am

    I’ve been wondering if I should read Inkheart but have mistrusted it. But now, I think, I’ll give it a go.
    Good luck with grad school application!

  3. February 2, 2008 8:19 am

    I’ve been meaning to read Inkheart since it came out, and now the movie is coming, so I have to hurry up! thanks for your review, now I have to get it SOONER rather than later! Here is the link to my blog : http://www.susanflynn.blogspot.com at You Can Never Have Too Many Books and THANK YOU for agreeing with me that Gillian Anderson is the lamest person ever to introduce Jane Austen and she gets it all wrong! Between you and Raidergirl3 I feel better that I missed Mansfield Park (she said the guys were nothing to look at and the heroine was too modern)…….hurry up LIzzie and Mr Darcy!!! I need my Colin Firth version fix!!! Congrats on reading so many books……happy reading and good luck getting into grad school, what are you hoping to study?

  4. February 2, 2008 1:04 pm

    I read Inkheart last year and enjoyed it. I agree that are some problems, which may or may not bother very young readers, but which did bother me. Like you, however, I found the love of books exhibited by Mo and Meggie to be a pleasure.

  5. February 2, 2008 1:15 pm

    I adored Inkheart…but then I’m easy to please :)

    Good luck with the whole grad school thing! How exciting! If I’d been reading your blog longer, I would probably know, but what are you going to be studying? I, of course, jump right to the conclusion that it has something to do with literature, because of how talented you are at analyzing it and how wonderfully you write. Sometimes I wish I’d gone the grad school route, but then again just going through it with my husband was tough enough!

    Hope you’re having a lovely weekend, Eva!

  6. February 2, 2008 1:49 pm

    I am annoyed at that librarian! Here I spend my time at work trying to convince library patrons to try children’s and young adult books every now and them (not usually very succesfully, but with occasional positive results), and she has to go get all snarky. Sheesh!

    Inkkheart is on my TBR list, and I’m hoping to get to it soon! Thanks for the review.

  7. February 2, 2008 4:07 pm

    Chris, thanks! You already have your master’s, don’t you? I hope you enjoy Inkheart!

    MusingsfromtheSofa, thanks! Why did you mistrust it?

    Susan, I own the BBC edition of P&P, so I can get my fix whenever I want. ;) I’d like to get a master’s in nonproliferation studies.

    Jenclair, I’m glad we had similar views!

    Debi, I adored it while I was reading it as well. :) I want to get a master’s in nonproliferation studies-I studied international relations in college, and I love it! Thank you for the kind wishes-I treated myself to a mini-shopping spree today, so despite the erratic weather, it’s been fun so far!

    Darla, hehe-I was a little annoyed too. I just said, “Yes, I know. It’s also over 500 pages.” You know what’s weird? None of the librarians at my library ever *read*: they spend all of their downtime talking to one another and never about books. And if I ask them for book suggestions, they never really get past super-obvious authors (like when I asked them if they knew any good horror books for Halloween, and they could only come up with Stephen King). Ok-going to stop dissing the librarians now (and don’t think that’s my general opinion!)…and there is one really cool one (she’s younger) who I talk about books with!

  8. February 3, 2008 3:24 am

    It’s kind of sad that a librarian would let her thinking be all straitjacketed like that.

  9. February 3, 2008 7:20 am

    Nonproliferation studies…wow, Eva, that is just so incredibly cool! Seriously, I wish I was better with words and could tell you how totally awesome I think that is. And I didn’t think I could admire you any more than I already did. You proved me wrong!

  10. February 3, 2008 7:37 am

    Congratulations on the 10,000! I just submitted my application too so I’ll bite my nails with you. Good luck!

  11. February 3, 2008 9:38 am

    Yep, I have my master’s, now I’m going to try for the PhD! Nonproliferation studies! That’s awesome! Oh, and I love the librarian conversation between you and Darla…seriously, what’s with some librarians? Some of them just emit misery…though the super-cool ones make up for them :)

  12. February 3, 2008 10:27 am

    Good luck with the applications! I’m sure you’ll get in just fine!

    I’d like to read Cornelia Funke, but first on my list is Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass as it’s titled over there with you). I’m really looking forward to that.

  13. February 3, 2008 11:13 am

    Bybee, isn’t it? Bad librarian, lol.

    Debi, aww-you always make me feel so good about myself. :)

    Ted, good luck with you as well! I’ll hope for the best for bost of us.

    Chris, that’s such a good phrase to describe some of the librians: “emit misery.” I’m so used to librarian who book blog, it’s always something of a shock to meet the ones who don’t seem to enjoy their job or books at all. That’s super-impressive that you’re going for your PhD! I don’t think I hae the capacity to write a thesis-I did an Honors Porject last year that was only a little over 100 pages and it just exhausted me. I think I’m inclined to be a generalist rather than a specialist.

    Litlove, thanks so much! I just finished rereading Golden Compass, and it was just as good the second time around. So I hope you enjoy it!

  14. February 3, 2008 6:47 pm

    When I was a kid I used to have to get around the librarian to read adult books. Now that I’m an adult, do I have to sneak around to read the kids books? Then there’s the whole boys books and girls books issue. I remember checking out twelve Hardy Boy books just to sneak one Nancy Drew into the pile.

    Of course all of these issues may just be in my mind and they librarians never really gave a …

    Jim

  15. February 3, 2008 7:53 pm

    I don’t know HOW I didn’t love Inkheart, but it dragged for me and I ended up laying it aside. Mood maybe? Not sure. I’m glad you enjoyed it, though!

  16. February 4, 2008 12:37 am

    Jim, that’s so funny! I realise now that there are certain classics (like Treasure Island) that I didn’t really think about reading, probably because they were ‘boy’ books. But at the time I didn’t really want to read them. And perhaps you’ll have to sneak around if you visit my library!

    Andi, I can see how the book might not have felt right-it was pretty juvenile. More so than I was expecting, I think. And I definitely think it could have lost a hundred pages or so without any significant loss. Maybe if you try rereading it later you’ll like it-that happened to me w/ The Eyre Affair.

  17. February 4, 2008 3:32 pm

    Yeah, I think maybe that’s it–the juvenile’ness of it. I was definitely expecting something a bit more sophisticated. And I had the same situation with The Eyre Affair but liked it on the second go-round. Mood is everything!

  18. February 6, 2008 9:32 pm

    HI Eva, I just picked up Inkheart, so I’ll let you know when I’ve read it and if I agree. I have to say I’ve read Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass Series and I didn’t find it full of moral complexity – it got Christian near the end, but that was about it. Sorry! I did enjoy the book, though I found the movie cut out alot and that was a shame.
    Can I ask what Nonproliferation studies are?

  19. February 6, 2008 9:58 pm

    Andi, that’s funny we had the same Eyre Affair experience!

    Susan, I’m avoiding the movie, much as I adore Daniel Craig, because I just don’t think it could translate well. Nonproliferation studies focus on weapons of mass destruction (biological, chemical, nuclear) and how to prevent them from spreading and, with any luck, get rid of them all together.

  20. February 6, 2008 9:59 pm

    Whoops-I just read that you didn’t find moral complexity in the Pullman series. That’s interesting!

  21. April 1, 2008 1:25 pm

    I love Inkheart!

  22. May 7, 2008 12:17 pm

    Here is my review (I finally read it!) at
    http://susanflynn.blogspot.com/2008/04/inkheart.html
    as per the Weekly Geeks 2!!! :-)

  23. ayunda permalink
    April 29, 2010 6:40 am

    Hello, I’m new to your blog, but I see that your blog is very fun and interesting!
    I read Inkheart, and as a child I love it! Check out my review on the book: http://ayundabhuwana.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/book-review-5/ and visit my blog to see updates!!

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