When I read the first couple pages of this book, I knew I had something wonderful in my hands. By the second or third chapter I began to have my doub...more When I read the first couple pages of this book, I knew I had something wonderful in my hands. By the second or third chapter I began to have my doubts. John Connely is very interested in fairy tales, particularly the short stories of the Brothers Grimm. In The Book of Lost Things, he tries to incorporate familiar tales with personal tweaks and interpetations, and mix it with his own characters and ideas. While the premise sounds appealing for a fantasy novel, I'm afraid it fell painfully short. The idea behind this book is that a little boy who likes to read goes into a place where the stories are real, and when he does so brings with him his own fears and fantasies that manifest in his adventures as evil beasts and magical oppurtunites and deceptions. As he faces these fears, hopes, and dreams that cannot be fulfilled, he is hunted by a Crooked Man (a trickster loosely based on Rumplestilsken) who wants to srike a deal with him to prolong his own life. The ultimate point is for him to face his own demons and overcome them through a progression of experiences in this other world. His demons include ticks that are rather OCD-ish, seizure like fits, resentment towards the death of his mother, and of his new family. In the end, his journey through this other place is supposed to have altered him and made him more grown up. I have several problems with this. Firstly, I didn't like the fact that David's resentment to his stepmother was portrayed as something wicked and unfair. His mother dies and several months later his father marries the head nurse at the hospital where she died, and makes a baby with her (fishy fishy). He moves David out of the house he grew up into and they put him in an attic room full of bugs and mice and ivy coming through the window. The woman becomes angry with him because he doesn't cozy up to her first thing, and slaps him, and his father punishes him for being rude. I don't like this at all. He had a right to be upset. He had a right to be angry. Secondly, I didn't think the person David becomes was so grand at all. I rather liked him at the very beginning, but the more he 'grew up' the more dreadfully boring he became.
But nevermind this thread of thought, because what we're interested is the telling of the story and why I think it was not very good.
*NOTE- the difference in a Fairy Tale Story, and a fantasy novel:
A story is simply relating events in a particular setting, with particular people doing specific things. It never reaches beyond the corners of its own telling, because its the presentation of a tale.
A fantasy novel, take Lord of The Rings for an example, is telling a story which takes place inside of an imaginary world which its author has created (There is alot more to Middle Earth than what we can learn between Hobbit conversations and arguments among wizards).
The Book of Lost Things attempted to be one such book, but the world existed only as far as the story. This created a very straight ahead feeling, as if there was no world to the left or the right of the road that the protaganist was on. It didn't feel like stepping into an alternate world, instead it felt like several stories strung together and a character stepping through them in sequence till he reached the end and the climax. In the progression of events, David faces certain trials, and hears numerous stories from other characters in the book. The twist on these was not as discreet, or original as I would have liked (Snow White was not fair but fat, the Beauty and The Beast, The False Servant, and I think one more, simply had their gender roles reversed. The Three Surgeon's heads miracle salve finds it place with a huntress who reminds one a little bit of the witch in Hansel and Gretel). It was all very disconnected and filled with what seemed to be random bits of information; for example he randomly slaughters a few thieves on the road at one point, who had no part in the story, no explanation at all, and somehow that makes him a man. Or for another, one of the main characters is a homosexual. Not to say anything about that lifestyle itself, but in this book it seemed unneccesary and a little bit off the wall. At the end of the book I didn't understand why that random point of interest had any significance at all, outside of adding to the slight sexual undercurrent that ran throughout this tale.
The writing itself improves at the very beginning and end of the book, but in between it becomes quite dull. Things that should have been revealed in subtelty were simply said out loud before you even registered what questions you should be asking. Everything was explained as immediately as it was presented, and some things were completely unneceasarry to say at all. Conversations were straightforward and flat, sometimes even cheesy.
I guess by now you can tell I was not impressed. This 'coming of age' book is significantly less interesting than the Grimm's fairy tales it borrowed from, and if I had to come up with something nice to say I'd say it wasn't terribly slow and long, because I was glad to be done with it.
This book is about a little girl, Germany during the reign of Hitler, but mainly the power of words. The power of words, and colors. The first thing...more This book is about a little girl, Germany during the reign of Hitler, but mainly the power of words. The power of words, and colors. The first thing I notice when I pick up a book is the author's writing style. Nothing else really matters, because I'll read just about any kind of subject matter. I enjoyed Mark Zusak's writing from the very first word. Don't look for long and detailed narrative, there's a clever sort of blatency to this book. A little bit different, which I think most readers should be able to appreciate.The sentences are meaty little chunks of words. The chapters short and packed tight. Efficient would be a good word to describe it, because it says so much in such little pieces. The narrator is Death, and there's a lot of dying in the story. As its a very human book, (the characters feel so real you'll be checking the leaves to see if its based on a true story, as it very well COULD have been but wasn't), it will probably make you sad. I'm looking forward to seeing more from this author.(less)