Ann's Reviews > Inkheart

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
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's review
Dec 04, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, italy, young-adult, books-about-books, books-for-reluctant-boys

** spoiler alert ** ...I REALLY wanted to like this book. The plot sounded so good, and it seemed perfect anyone who loves to read and who loves books themselves. A book restorer who can pull characters from the pages by reading aloud? I thought it was a sure thing. Needless to say, I was severely disappointed. I've liked Cornelia Funke's books in the past, particularly The Thief Lord, but as I read Inkheart, I noticed over and over again how hollow the story felt, and how much opportunity the author had to make a really amazing book with her great beginning idea. The characters had no depth (despite their emotional reactions to books), and seemed to all be cliches: there's a crazy book-loving aunt, mafiosi, dumb henchmen, etc. I never really bought the sadness and despair that the characters felt from being ripped from their homes within the book, something that Funke really could have developed. Likewise, I never bought that the three book-lovers truly loved books. They didn't reference very many, and even seemed to convey an arrogance about their love of books that I found off-putting. The author also chose to head each chapter with a quote from a book that supposedly prefaced what was to come, but I found her selections poor, and most of the quotes (59 chapters, after all) came from only a handful of books. It felt like, similar to her characters, she only has read a few books. However, maybe I felt this way because the books that the heroine, Meggie, loves are all books I kind of really dislike. Speaking of Meggie, what about her was I supposed to like? She came off as very bratty and negative instead of brave and precocious, which I'm sure the author meant to portray. The mastermind of evil, Capricorn, only wanted to live in a dilapidated Italian village and hoard treasure read out of books while bullying the neighboring towns into silence about his existence. Why exactly was he so scary? What was his evil evil goal? Did he even use the gold to get stuff? Also, it didn't feel like the ability to read things out was consistent. At first, characters can read objects and people out of the book, but they have their own will and don't follow what happened to them within the book. However, the climax involves reading a monster from the book, and then directing its actions with the story written about it. Did I miss something? Was I just skimming at that point? This isn't how the earlier characters operated.

And perhaps most disappointing is that nothing really happened with the plot. We find out early on what Mo (a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE choice to name the hero) is hiding from Meggie (the ability to read things out of books), they meet up with Capricorn quickly, they run away, they are recaptured, they plan their escape, the big climax fizzles out. Yet there are 500+ pages to fill. This book made me appreciate Harry Potter a billion times more (and I'm pretty apathetic about HP) because of the level of detail and side story that Rowling is able to incorporate. I believe strongly that good books should feel organic, like they came into being without the aid of a writer. This is a rather large theme within the book, and it was funny to me that Inkheart seemed to be the opposite of it.
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Reading Progress

December 4, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
January 5, 2009 – Finished Reading
January 7, 2009 – Shelved as: fantasy
January 7, 2009 – Shelved as: italy
January 7, 2009 – Shelved as: young-adult
January 7, 2009 – Shelved as: books-about-books
October 10, 2011 – Shelved as: books-for-reluctant-boys

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Kara (new) - rated it 1 star

Kara I didn't want to believe your comments so I attempted this monstrocity myself. You were completely correct. I am heart broken.

David Keefe I read this book roughly a month after you did. I agree with your review and was glad I read it before writing my own because it would have been very similar. It was such a good (if not completely original) premise, and had a very gripping beginning, but fell short with the repetitious progression and ending. It reminded me of those books written by authors in serial form that were published one chapter every week or so and sound like the author is making up the plot as he goes. My most memorable complaint (it's been several months since I've read it) was that the villian, Capricorn, never lived up to his reputation. Everyone is telling Meg how sinister and awful and wicked he is, but when he steps up to the plate, I don't remember him ever delivering. I mean they talk about him pulling the wings off birds or butterflies or something just for the fun of it and treating people the same way, but when push comes to shove I don't remember anyone ever dying by his hand or by the hand of someone he employs. Besides saying, "Bring them to me," and "If you don't do as I ask, you'll be sorry," I don't remember feeling any real threat from him. I know there was an execution planned at the end, but even that didn't happen, so all his posturing and threats left me feeling empty. I wanted Funke to give us a horrific example of what he had done since escaping or being read out of the book that would cause others to tremble with fear at the mere mention of his name, but there was none of that. Maybe because it was designed for younger readers than myself, but hell-- even Lord Voldemort had a student killed in front of Harry Potter in "Goblet of Fire."

I found "The NeverEnding Story" to be a much better read as far as a book about booklovers and a more endearing story as far as wishes, hopes, dreams, and friendship. Perhaps I'll get more out of the sequels that follow "Inkheart" (Inkspell & Inkdeath). If not, I'll probably sell them or donate them or give them away. Because unlike Aunt What's-her-name, I try not to hoard books that I know I'll never read more than once.

message 3: by Ann (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ann I admire that you're willing to keep reading the rest of them - let me know if they get any better! I suspect the opposite, unfortunately.

Liesl So I just started reading this book and am in complete agreement with your review. Your review actually covers everything I've thought and I'm just glad to know I'm not alone. The premise is such a wonderful idea and I've read such great reviews and how this is a book for all book lovers out there yet I felt so apathetic towards the characters and felt the plot was just dragging on and on. Why exactly is this book over 500 pages? I was going to push on but I have far too many books I want to read, so I think I'm going to lay this one to rest. The Thief Lord is good though? Because I have interest in that book as well but was worried it would turn into a disappointment like this one.

message 5: by Ann (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ann Yay! I'm glad I'm not the only one that felt this way. I remember liking The Thief Lord, but I don't remember much about it now. I think I read it about 10 years ago? It's definitely shorter, so at least it's not quite the time commitment. :)

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