R.J.'s Reviews > Castle in the Air

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
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Nov 13, 2008

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Read in November, 2008

This should really be 3.5 stars. I liked the premise and I liked Abdullah a great deal, but these muddled, meandering plots where everything resolves with improbable neatness at the end are beginning to wear thin. To me it read less like a complex story with a satisfyingly tight resolution than as though DWJ made it all up as she went along and only at the end decided to assign old identities to the new characters we'd met along the way. (I'm not saying that's what she actually did, only that's how it felt to me.)

Still, a fun story overall, with the usual cast of engaging characters and action-packed adventure.
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Reading Progress

11/15/2008 page 100

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah. I re-read this one recently too, and just couldn't get past the plotting. It really does seem as if she makes it up as she goes along (sound familiar!!?), and sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't. Hexwood made me seriously crazy for that reason--sprawling, incoherent, inconsistent plot.

R.J. It does sound familiar, but I know authors (*coughs meaningfully at you*) who make it up as they go and still come up with a coherent story in the end... It may be that aspect mostly comes out in revisions rather than in the first draft, but still, it happens at some point in the process.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, the process does work. I wonder if a successful plot is just serendipity for DWJ, and sometimes she's juggling 10 balls, a machete, a torch, an apple pie and a live chicken, and they all come crashing down on her...

message 4: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Yah, that apparent making it all up as she goes along is what makes reading her stuff such great exercise for me--I end up throwing the book against the wall so often, it qualifies as a cardiovascular workout. But a lot of my friends just adore her books and find the plotting to be delightfully organic. *Eyes cross*

Still, I'll probably try Howl's Moving Castle because so many people said that would probably be the one of hers that would work best for me.

R.J. LOL on the cardiovascular workout! I don't feel that strongly about them by any means -- at the worst I just feel kind of disappointed that they weren't as utterly delightful to me as so many other people seemed to find them. I am wondering if perhaps DWJ is one of those authors that you have to learn to love as a child or not at all? C.S. Lewis seems to be like that for many people, though to me (who grew up reading him) it's almost unimaginable that anyone could not love Narnia.

message 6: by Vicki (new)

Vicki I don't know if it's a childhood threshold issue or what, but I tend to just think of it as my lacking the DJW gene.

R.J. Heh. Speaking of author genes, I thought I lacked the Pratchett gene until I read his Tiffany Aching books. I think I may still lack the gene for any other series of his, but I definitely "got" those.

message 8: by Vicki (new)

Vicki The only Discworld book I've read is Mort, which I really liked, but it didn't get down into my bones the way I thought it would from what I'd heard about the series. But then I found out that I probably started with the wrong book. *Smacks forehead* But I did laugh uproariously at Good Omens, which is a half-Pratchett book (the other half being from Neil "swoon-worthy" Gaiman).

R.J. See, I don't really get Gaiman either. Or at least not on the basis of NEVERWHERE and CORALINE, which are the only two of his I've read.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

*poking my nose in*

Gaiman's books just slide right off me. I swear, I've read Neverwhere twice and I still can't remember a single scene in it or remotely what it's about...

message 11: by Vicki (new)

Vicki I liked Neverwhere, but I loved American Gods. I haven't hit the right Sandman, I guess. I didn't like Coraline--it would have been SO much better if she'd had a good sidekick. I kept hollering at the cat to talk, but it never would. :..( If only Mogget from Lirael could have beamed into the book, *then* we'd have been cookin' with gas!

message 12: by R.J. (new) - rated it 3 stars

R.J. Sarah, I think you and I are kindred spirits when it comes to the kind of books we like. I shall have to look at your recs and reviews a lot more closely now. :)

message 13: by R.J. (new) - rated it 3 stars

R.J. Vicki, then you will love PLAIN KATE by Erin Noteboom, which was just bought by Arthur A. Levine Books and should be coming out in 2010. Taggle is by far the most brilliant talking cat I have ever read. I love him madly.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

My Goodreads list isn't that informative. I tend not to give anything a rating apart from a few five-star standouts. But if I actually finish a book (and it's on my "read" list) it means I probably liked it quite a bit. Otherwise it goes on my "abandoned" list.

I'll have to check out your list, too, given our taste alignment! I still have to read the Phillip REeve book!!! As it happens, the same actor did the audio of MT as did that book (I think...) (or one of his books, anyway).

message 15: by Vicki (new)

Vicki I did love American Gods, but my favorite Gaimans, really, are his picture books--The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish and The Wolves in the Walls. They are so marvelously weird and hilarious, they never fail to crack me up. But I have a deep weakness for picture books and have kept most of ours although DS and DD grew out of them years ago.

I don't know which lines and scenes Gaiman or Pratchett wrote in Good Omens, but some of the predictions from Agnes Nutter (17th century prognosticator) still kill me: "Do not buy bettamaxe." Hehehehehe! But then, I have a very weird sense of humor.

message 16: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Ooooh! *Makes note of good talking cat* I also have a weakness for talking cats!

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