As a child in the early 1980s, I was fortunate enough to experience the somewhat psychedelic French anime program The Mysterious Cities of Gold when iAs a child in the early 1980s, I was fortunate enough to experience the somewhat psychedelic French anime program The Mysterious Cities of Gold when it first ran on television in the United States. That show was loosely -- and I mean very loosely -- based on this Scott O'Dell title, which (supported by the fact that I'd also read a dozen or so Scott O'Dell books in grade school) was my primary incentive for picking up The King's Fifth.
For the record, the book and the television program have nearly nothing in common apart from character names and setting. That said, The King's Fifth is a very solid piece of historical fiction -- far more historically sound than its Saturday-morning counterpart, in keeping with the rest of O'Dell's works -- and it's a great young-adult read that brings the period of European exploration in South America to life....more
This classic board-cover book -- a typical specimen of the mid-20th-century Whitman children's series, which also included such greats as Lassie, RoyThis classic board-cover book -- a typical specimen of the mid-20th-century Whitman children's series, which also included such greats as Lassie, Roy Rogers and the Bobbsey Twins -- is a great nostalgia trip for those who watched the 1950s TV series or love the Zorro character/legend in general. (As a long-time masked-hero devotee who faithfully watched Zorro reruns all the way through college, I fit in both categories.)
Although this "Authorized TV Edition" is a direct scene-for-scene adaptation of the television series (and therefore not very suspenseful for those who saw the original show), it still makes for pleasant escapist fare. Frazee's writing, though clearly intended for young readers, is not so simplistic that adults can't enjoy the adventure as well.
Frazee, it is worth noting, was a prolific pulp writer who published scores of novels and short stories for adults, in addition to a long list of children's titles that included books in the Lassie and Walt Disney series. A trace of that action-thriller flavor carries over into his children's books as well; perhaps that is why they are still so much fun to read!...more
I love the Artemis Fowl book series, but in my opinion the heavily-stylized artwork of the graphic novel really detracts from the story -- to the poinI love the Artemis Fowl book series, but in my opinion the heavily-stylized artwork of the graphic novel really detracts from the story -- to the point where I'm too busy shielding my eyes from the lumpy, mutated character designs to actually read any of the text.
I generally enjoy graphic novels (as anyone who has seen my manga and comic book collection can attest), but I find the presentation of this specimen fairly uninteresting. For example, looking at the front cover: Does this picture make you want to dive immediately into the story? Does it give the slightest hint what the story is about, or even what genre it is? Nothing about this version attracts a reader or draws him in unless he is already familiar with the source material -- in which case the graphic novel will be a bland review, since the text is largely a copy/paste from the original book. The artwork doesn't help, either, as some of the characters are really almost painful to look at; I physically cringed looking at Butler's deformed neck and pin-sized head. This is a popular art style for some applications, but it's not something I want to look at for the length of a book.
There's no advantage to reading the comic book version when you can get a more complete experience by reading the original novel -- and the pictures painted in the reader's mind by the novel text will undoubtedly be more fulfilling....more
Inkheart has a very creative premise, and it isn't badly written, but it suffers -- among other things -- from a lack of interesting or relatable charInkheart has a very creative premise, and it isn't badly written, but it suffers -- among other things -- from a lack of interesting or relatable characters. I realized as I read that not only did I not really like any of the characters in the story, but I also didn't really care what became of them; I was finishing the book only for the sake of finishing the book, and not because I had any real interest in the outcome.
Funke also tends to be a bit heavy-handed with the symbology revolving around Capricorn. As if his name weren't neon-lettered hint enough, we also read about a desecrated church -- "the devil's house" -- draped in red, fitted with an idol of Capricorn that his followers must genuflect to, and constant character dialogue comparing him to the devil. Even Meggie highlights the message with a casual comment that "the devil was made up by people," hinting at Capricorn's fictional origins. After a few chapters of this treatment, I wouldn't have been surprised if Capricorn had sprouted red horns and cloven hooves.
Capricorn's evil men are also illiterate, as we are constantly reminded, and have no respect for books; this separates them from the book-revering main characters, but it is too clean a division. In this book, People Who Read are Good People; People Who Don't Read are necessarily Bad People. One gets the impression that we could end all crime and bring about world peace, if only literacy were duly promoted.
Unfortunately, I don't think I care enough about any of these people -- literate or not -- to continue reading the series....more
I saw this title on the Young Adult shelf at the library and, remembering Eight Days of Luke, Howl's Moving Castle and other titles I'd enjoyed by tI saw this title on the Young Adult shelf at the library and, remembering Eight Days of Luke, Howl's Moving Castle and other titles I'd enjoyed by the same author, I picked it up. I'm glad I had read the other books by Jones before, because I wasn't really impressed by this one, and I might not have given her a second chance had this been my only experience with her work.
Much of the book is a sort of coming-of-age narrative of the main character, with whom I failed to sympathize. Although the premise of the story (which is a spoiler, so I won't describe it here) is interesting, and is in keeping with Jones' propensity to incorporate classic literature and folklore into her fantasy, it felt like the author waited until the last quarter of the book to really begin advancing the plot.
My suggestion: Skip this title, and go read some of Jones' other books instead....more
**spoiler alert** To say that Paolini's follow-up to Eragon is a disappointment is something like saying that George Lucas' Howard the Duck isn't quit**spoiler alert** To say that Paolini's follow-up to Eragon is a disappointment is something like saying that George Lucas' Howard the Duck isn't quite as spectacular a film as Star Wars. It took me NINE MONTHS to force my way through this drivel-saturated sequel, and turning each page required an act of will.
WARNING: Spoilers below.
If Eragon is Tolkien fanfiction, Eldest reads like the world's longest Mary Sue story. In between soapboxing about religion and veganism, Eragon proves that you CAN have a character who is whinier and more obnoxious than Anakin Skywalker in Episode II (to continue the Star Wars metaphor). He spends much of the book moping about his injured back and his unrequited love (a relationship which I find completely baseless and implausible) until, presto, deus ex dragon! -- the whiny brat is MAGICALLY transformed into a perfect and incredibly handsome specimen of Rider, whisking away not only his scars and physical infirmities, but also any sympathy the reader may have felt for him.
The big twist ending of the book is hardly a surprise (honestly, I pegged Murtagh's true identity within a few pages of his character's introduction in Eragon -- was there anyone who DIDN'T see this coming?). By the end of the final battle, I was rooting for a real twist: That someone would put Eragon out of his misery and elevate some other, more interesting character to the title role.
After reading Eldest, I don't know if I'll bother with the third book in the series. I'm usually a completist where trilogies are concerned, but this may be the exception....more