Inkheart - Cornelia Funke, 2003
This isn't my usual reading material, but occasionally I like to throw back a few YA and stories as breathers, so to speak, between the heavier books. What I think I loved the most about this was that it is a book about a book, and the glorifying of all books in general. If you've seen the movie you know the basic premise, but I promise you the book is very different and a lot better in many ways. I think Dustfinger might be one of the biggest literary crushes I've ever had...is that weird? Cause I totally lust over fictional characters if they're good enough....even though he's kind of an a-hole through much of the story...geez, what does all that say about me? Anyways, so its about a book binder named Mo who can read stories to life. He ends up getting kidnapped by some characters he read out of the book and most of the plot revolves around Mo, his daughter and a bookworm aunt (who for better or worse, reminds me way too much of myself...her home/book sanctuary especially) overcoming obstacles to come out of everything alive and together, acquiring other story-creatures along the way. Meggie, the daughter who is basically the main character, has to find her own ways to outsmart her captors when Mo is no longer there to protect her.
I thought it was kind of wonderful that this book included quotes from other books at the beginning of every chapter, which kind of encapsulates the driving idea behind that section of the story. The quotes were often so poignant that I'd find myself thinking, "Oh I've got to read that one next!" each time I'd start a chapter. Also, the way she would describe Mo working with the books on his table was enough to have me searching for book-binding classes, which I've had zero luck with by the way. I'm not giving up though, I'm going to look until I find something. It was interesting to learn through an interview that Cornelia Funke actually wrote Mo's character for Brendan Fraser. She sent him the book and told him that he had been her muse. Isn't that neat? That had to have made him feel good, so obviously he took the role for Mo in the movie. I thought he was great in it before I knew about the muse thing or had read the book, although I think his character could've been better had they kept some of the complexities of the book...but eh, it was a kids movie.
Anyways, all around this was a great YA novel and somewhat of an epic. What I really admire about Inkheart is that it gives you a reason to read another book at every turn, to learn more about this or that character who you get just a glimpse of in this book. I find this is an excellent way to, in a sense, trick kids into wanting to read more, which I think is fantastic for those who don't just get the urge naturally. I'm excited to read the second book, Inkspell. The only downsides of the book are that there are some continuity issues about the workings and rules of who goes in and out of the books and how, which is probably not noticeable to most readers, and the massive overuse of the phrase "Good Heavens." Although I'm sure the issue with the latter has more to do with it being a translation rather than a fault of the actual author.
Rating: 4 stars