Phayvanh's Reviews > Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
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's review
May 06, 08

bookshelves: 2008, reviews, kids
Recommended to Phayvanh by: anticipating the movie
Recommended for: readers of the series (kids)
Read in May, 2008

Anticipating this summer's movie version, I decided last week that I was going to read this before seeing the film. So my boyfriend bought me a $2 used copy at the local bookstore.

And though I stayed up well through the night reading the entire book in one gulp, it was not because of the usual seductive traps: lyricism ( Ahab's Wife), dramatic passions ( Jane Eyre) or gripping plotlines ( The Golden Compass). Why? I wonder myself why I didn't put it down and get a full night's rest.

Here's the thing: I already know The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and its plotline, having read it once in the 5th grade and then last year watching the film on video. (It does top the old BBC/PBS series of yore, btw.) It had been, until this morning, the only C.S. Lewis book I had read. Not enough for me to have made any conjecture about the author or the series. It seemed everyone I knew loved the books as a child. Had I missed out somehow? I wanted to know what the fuss was about. And unlike the Lord of the Rings series by his colleague J.R.R. Tolkein, Lewis's books seemed lighter fare for the less fantastically leaning reader. And because I'd enjoyed the Harry Potter and His Dark Materials series both, I thought it was a sure bet. Besides, the movie looks pretty awesome.

I was taken somewhat by the opening of the book, in which the narrator gives a few paragraphs backstory and tells us to read the previous book to catch up. He does this a couple other times throughout.

Otherwise, the plot is fairly predictible and the children a bit cardboard. The wild creatures of the forest, even, seem to accept their king as King, simply because one of their cohorts said so. A bit unbelievable for characters in hiding for fear of death, don't you think? I do.

While I accept the mythic Aslan may have special powers and is seen as the Savior of the dark times in Narnia, just how did he convert those of little faith? Because he's a lion? Ferocious?

This here is the author's weak point. A fine example of telling vs. showing. The author relies on the reader's knowledge of the previous story and doesn't show that he cares whether you like his story enough to prove his characters have, well, character.

This is a story that could be wonderfully told. Abandonment, the return of great heros, the coming into one's birthright. All heavy universal themes. And if it wouldn't seem so sacreligious to say so, I'd suggest a better author write the story anew.

Given the darkness of YA books on the shelves these days, the readership ought be trusted with the blood and betrayal and bewilderment of such a journey. I wanted it, and kind of expected it.

It was neat to see themes from this book echoed in others I've read. That the later books were giving a nod to this story (author or series) by reworking them into their own stories.

If you're looking for something to get our preteen to read instead of play video games this summer. Give it a try.

I'm just rambling on now. This is the longest review I've written for a 2-star book and for those who stuck with it, thanks. Your comments would be appreciated.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Leah I totally get you, but don't be discouraged from the rest of the series. This was my least favorite book as you can see by my review. I would recommend "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" because it is my favorite. Then "The Magician's Nephew." The two best of the series in my opinion. I also said this in my review-but Lewis is not great at character development. In the books I just listed however it doesn't matter. The adventure is enough to keep you going.

Peter I'd love to know what you thought of the movie.

The book is definitely the weakest of the series, and Aslan IS an annoying and manipulative character (plus "things never happen the same way twice"? Then why DID he eventually show up and defeat the bad guys again?). But the rest of the series is much better, well worth reading.

Phayvanh Leah and Peter, thanks for the comments--I think I will pick up the rest of the series at some point.

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