This book is the zenith of the entire Lemony Snicket collection. It is the piece of the puzzle that makes you sit up and say, "Good heavens, there ISThis book is the zenith of the entire Lemony Snicket collection. It is the piece of the puzzle that makes you sit up and say, "Good heavens, there IS a plot!"
When I read the first few Series of Unfortunate Events books, it was only to familiarize myself with what I was told from all sides was sure to be the next Harry Potter phenomenon. I wasn't terribly impressed with the first two or three volumes -- cute idea, I thought, but nothing that really grabbed me. A couple of years later, I needed something to listen to in the car, so I borrowed some of the SoUE audiobooks from the library. It was then that I began to realize something vital: Beneath all the puns and stilted language and Edward Gorey-dom of the rest of the Series of Unfortunate Events books lies the delightfully sinister tale of Lemony Snicket himself (of which the Unauthorized Biography is the sourcebook), and it is THAT story -- not the sad, sad tale of the Beaudelaire orphans, ad nauseum -- that is at the heart of the whole series.
You must have read at least the first four or five of the SoUE books in order to understand the appeal of the Unauthorized Autobiography, but it's worth looking at even if you haven't read the whole series.
If possible, read the hardback edition. It features a couple of interesting elements that the paperback version lacks....more
Eragon is an extremely derivative, almost tediously predictable fantasy that reads like nothing so much as fanfiction for Tolkien's Lord of the RingsEragon is an extremely derivative, almost tediously predictable fantasy that reads like nothing so much as fanfiction for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Despite the too-familiar characters and its World In Peril From An Immortal Dark Lord (TM) plot, it's a decent enough read, as long as you don't open the cover expecting to find great literature.
(A friendly hint, though: Stop after this book. Don't even bother with Eldest.)...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
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
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