Mariel's Reviews > Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
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's review
Nov 29, 2007

it was amazing
Recommended to Mariel by: stillness is the move
Recommended for: it still moves

I'd started writing this review yesterday. I had to quit because I was busy having one of my anxiety fits about using cliches, not saying what I really mean, unclear sentences, my bad grammar, blah blah. I worry about it so much that it is hard to write anything.

Howl's Moving Castle is one of those books that I wish I'd not read so I could read it again. That's a cliche, it's true, but it is true. A lot has been written about Howl's on goodreads so I'll try and say something beyond all of the true things about it that would appeal to fantasy junkies (that is me). I wouldn't be able to come up with a list of all the things that I wanted in a book (if I could I'd write better stuff than I do to amuse myself). I'd just wish for something this good to appear in my hands all on its own. Diana Wynne Jones has a book about how to write fantasy. I haven't read it. I wonder what she has to say about endings, though. If there is one thing I don't like about her it is the endings. (The sequels to Howl's are not special in any way, to me.) How to write a good ending?

It's like what John Lennon said. If it's not okay, it's not the end. I loved that there was like this chance for things to be okay. That's an ending. Fantasy is good to me because it is different than any forseeable future. What I can recognize is seperated like Morrissey under a stage spotlight. The best moments, and all of it put into some kind of dramatic context where there's actually a point to any of it. (I suck at explaining stuff!) My favorite part is what felt familiar to me (people stuff). I can't explain it to myself why that is. Reviews all over goodreads constantly mention something called "world-building" (I'm sure I've done it too, in an attempt to be normal or useful. Yeah, right) in reviews of all kinds of fantasy type books (probably more than anything else. I don't understand technical talk). I am going to admit something else besides that I don't understand commas or semi-colons (or did I remove that confession?): I don't understand reality either. I either believe it or I don't. It should be like a movie if it is really good. You don't think about how they did it. You're at home there. Most of the time I'm feeling anxious and not at all at home. That's why I love books so much. I get to be at home, for a change.

I recognized Sophie. Sophie lets herself down in so many ways. I can relate to this so much! Being hard on yourself to the point you don't want to do anything at all? Check. She believes everything in her life is predetermined; from being the eldest of her sisters, obligations, the job in the hat shop. I cannot remember exactly what her reasons were for not taking a chance on anything. It was definitely something about a kinda curse/fate on the eldest kids. It resonated with me for all of the reasons I can come up with not to do things. It's hard to push past that kinda shit. For example, how it is drilled into your head that if you don't have everything in life figured out before age eighteen you're screwed. You can go back and do something else if you made the bad choice for yourself. I'm a naysayer, though. Reminding doesn't last long enough. I believe this kinda shit can happen, just like she did.

I hated that the Miyazaki anime made the point of the story that Sophie thinks of herself as being beautiful (as an image). It wasn't about that!

The curse the Witch of the Waste lays on her is killing (and oh so telling) because it takes away the life she didn't think she deserved to have. Not what the life is, just the right to have one.

There was a lot about this book that got to me on those "oooh" levels about plots, the world, atmospherics, villains, right and wrong and the characters. It was pretty much freaking cool (I loved that moving castle before I ever even "saw" it). Cool isn't all that special without something to make it feel like it mattered, or you were "there".

The movie isn't bad. It just wastes time on the stuff that isn't special and ignored what was (to me). It was also pointless to waste the jab on John Lassiter. (It IS annoying having to watch him blab on about how great Miyazaki is on all of the dvds. I know I'm in for a treat to watch Spirited Away! I've seen almost everything he's done. I'm a mega-fan. Shut-up, you stupid fucker. I hate that Disney dvds don't let you skip. "Fastplay", my ass.) The whole bit about the turnip head turning into a prince jab at Disney tied-up endings? I can't stand it when successful people are bitter. Terry Gilliam's stupidly pointless intro "explaining" Tideland just 'cause some critics at Cannes panned it (if you have to explain it to the audience beforehand...). Or Christopher Guest's bitter awards show movie. Art School Confidential. Howl's Moving Castle the Movie or China Mieville's Un Lun Dun. Um, I could go on with examples. Don't waste your own story time on making bitter jabs at other people. This is your time and if you have something to say, say it. I mean, they have the chance.


I hope this didn't suck too bad. This reviewing business is tough.

P.s. I'd give my heart to a demon too.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony Good review, Mariel...I've been meaning to check this out...(although I've never been a John Lennon fan, I must admit.)

message 2: by karen (new)

karen how is it hard for you to write anything?? you write nine reviews a day - it is difficult to keep up, monkey...

Mariel You have a point

Poor John Lennon

message 4: by s.p (new)

s.p I didn't realize this was a book! I love anything Miyazaki, guilty pleasure, and I would really enjoy seeing where he got his ideas from, especially after reading your opinion on why it is better in the novel than his interpretation. Were any of his other films based on novels?

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