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!
I 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)