Books I Loathed discussion

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Loathed Titles > Inkheart

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message 1: by Kairi (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:39PM) (new)

Kairi Uzeniba Alright, there might be some people reading this and wondering what I'm talking about, but this is just what I thought. It seemed very good at first. But as it progressed, it seemed like the whole thing was the bad guys winning and the good guys suffering immensely. I never really finished it. I read most of it, but not all of it. I just didn't like the fact that every 3 pages the characters are losing and/or suffereing terribly.

If anyone has anything against this statement, I'll be happy to listen. This is only what I thought after reading most of the book.

This book just seemed to be watching the good guys have a sleepless night and regrets, and then they lose something important again.

Please, no one get angry at me though. It was well-written, but made me deeply sad even though I don't think it was supposed to.

Anyone who thinks the same or otherwise, please comment.


message 2: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:51PM) (new)

Meghan I never finished this book ethier. I just couldn't get into it. Some people might tell me that I have to read the whole thing before I make an oppion about it, but hey, I didn't like it at all.


message 3: by Cameron (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:00PM) (new)

Cameron | 7 comments You're both right in that the book flags in places and can create terrible sadness. I did get all the way through the book and the ending for me was more than light enough to make up for the dark places. I also read the sequel which is written in much the same way. Over all, I'd say that the book was a winner for me and I'd recommend, especially for those that like a little darkness in order to appreciate the light.


message 4: by Esther (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:16PM) (new)

Esther (eshchory) The book is slow and the constant setbacks did make it a harder-than-average read especially for YA but it was an original story and worthwhile making the effort to finish.

Maybe it is the German style.A friend who reads in German tells me German literature can often be like swimming through porridge.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

It took me a long time to get through Inkspell, and not because it was over 600 pages. Rather, I found both Inkspell and the first volume in this apparent trilogy, Inkheart, flat and clunky. This is “children’s literature” of the sort that makes the Harry Potter books so compelling by comparison: Where Rowling escapes her genre, Funke is firmly entrenched in it. Funke shows what she can do for about a hundred pages—roughly, pages 200-300 in the hardback Scholastic edition. However, whatever it is that illuminates a tale soon goes missing again.

The plot itself is fine so far as it goes: Events unfold (though I don’t see much character growth) and complications arise. However, characterization and character development (such as it is) is broadly and badly drawn and relies on one or two details about each character that are repeatedly asserted. I can live with this, though I’m surprised Funke can’t do better. What it means, though, is that the characters are 1-dimensional; since the conceit of this series is bringing books alive, the lack of vibrant characterization is particularly problematic and intrudes on the reader’s suspension of disbelief.

More troublingly, Funke does not resolve two problems from Inkheart that contributed greatly to my disappointment with plotting in that book, and contributes several apparent continuity oversights in Inkspell. I’m going to be specific, so don’t read on if you don’t want to hear about events toward the end of both books.

Toward the end of Inkheart, Meggie reads Fenoglio’s pages, concluding, “and all those who had gone burning and murdering with him disappeared” (p. 510, Scholastic paperback edition). There are two consequences to this that trouble me: 1) When Meggie banishes the Shadow, Fenoglio disappears, presumably into the book. This is a man with a family whose disappearance occasions no more comment than “there’s nothing we can do about it” (p. 514) and Meggie’s awareness that he would miss his grandchildren (519). By contrast, Resa’s disappearance into the book many years before has been a source of agony to her family and drives much of the emotional narrative here. The lack of concern for, or subsequent energy spent on, Fenoglio’s disappearance makes this book deeply immoral and is the only real reason that I would not supply it to a child. The second problem related to this event is that Basta does not die with the rest of Capricorn’s men: “And indeed, why wasn’t he [dead]?" (p. 516). A shouting match ensues about why Basta isn’t dead, and the answer is “How should I know?” (516). I withheld judgment about this until I finished Inkspell. Since this question went utterly unaddressed, I will now say that for an author to pull this sort of suspension of the rules of her own universe to move her plot along is deus ex machina of the worst sort. If the reader can’t trust the book’s own internal logic, dramatic tension is lost and the resolution can hardly be satisfying.

Indeed, deus ex machina rears its head at various points in Inkspell, in most cases through the stratagem of someone remembering something s/he had forgotten (that the reader did not know about) or suddenly revealing a secret (that has not been previously hinted at). Hinting is, in fact, not Funke’s strong suit; when she introduces a new comment or detail about a character or locale, look for it to be a requirement of the plot shortly thereafter.

Not to spoil the major dramatic moment of Inkspell, but it was dragged off-course for me by my preoccupation with the details of the book made for the Adderhead. There is a discussion about the poor quality of the paper; later, a point is raised about scraping something off a page. I thought, “Huh. You can scrape ink off parchment, but can you really scrape ink off paper?” Apparently not, because at the next description of the book, the page that is scraped is described as parchment. Later, it’s described as paper again. I don’t care one way or another, except that a) this is sloppy writing; b) the reader has been told earlier that Meggie abhors the slaughter of goats for hides to make either book covers or parchment (I can't remember which), and a 500-page book would require killing around 250 goats according to the math used earlier in the book; and c) the Adderhead is clearly superstitious and meticulous. He would not provide inferior paper for the book. In addition, he would not propose or agree to the writing/scraping activity that occurs due to the fear that an error would be introduced into the text and hence the process. This is why errors in Torah scrolls can't just be scraped clean.

Between the poor characterization, the clunky language (some of it a translation problem if the complex tenses are any indication), the small but distracting errors, and the large and troubling moral and plot issues, I found Inkspell an unsatisfactory book and a disappointing follow up (or lack of follow up) to the problems raised by Inkheart. I’ll probably read the next one because I always hope an author will manage to pull the loose ends together, but I’m not hopeful.

Nitpick: It annoys me that there are presumably unrelated characters named Mortimer and Mortola.

Nitpick: The German title was Tintenblut, or "Inkblood." The English language publishers should have retained this title, which is both more accurate and a better parallel to Tintenhertz, "Inkheart."

If you enjoy books where the “real” world of the book intersects with “literary” worlds within other books, try Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Next books (beginning with The Eyre Affair) instead. If you like books about tampering with reality by manipulating a symbolic analogue, you will be better served by Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven. On the other hand, plenty of people rate this book very highly. If the writing and moral issues I've identified don't bother you, have at it.


message 6: by Kate (new)

Kate (katiebobus) | 136 comments Mod
I'm so relieved other people didn't like this book. I really WANTED to, and some part of me keeps wanting to read the series bc the covers are so pretty, but I just felt like it was cheating to use all those pre-existing literary characters. And there was something -- maybe a translation issue -- so unemotional and phony about the language in the book.

Another one of Funke's that still looks attractive to me, but that I have avoided due to my dislike of Inkheart, is The Thief Lord. Did anyone who didn't like Inkheart enjoy that one?


message 7: by Meghan (new)

Meghan i could *not* get into this book. i finished it, and can't remember anything that happened. i didn't relate to/find interesting a single character, and the plot was boooooring.
kate -- i didn't like the thief lord, either. i think there's just something about funke. her characters are too much words on a page and not enough human for me. it was like she used paperdolls from oliver twist rather than writing anything interesting.


message 8: by Kate (new)

Kate (katiebobus) | 136 comments Mod
*Sigh* Oh well! I give up on Funke, then. I wonder how much of the clunkiness is a translation problem. Still, the books are slow and, as Shoshanapnw points out, Funke lets things happen that the characters don't understand and that she never explains. If you're going to write a book with magic, I think it should have concrete, explicit rules. I liked The Amulet of Samarkand of the Bartimaeus Trilogy (haven't read the second one yet) for sticking to the rules of magic better than most authors (including Rowling!)


message 9: by Brigid ✩ (new)

Brigid ✩ Oh I hated Inkheart too. Blah. the m.c. didn't even do anything!


message 10: by Kim (new)

Kim (mrsnesbitt) | 34 comments I liked the first one, but found the next two on the disapointing side. I have NO desire to see the movie, 'cause Hollywood will have ruined all the good parts.


message 11: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidithebee) Shoshanapnw wrote: "It took me a long time to get through Inkspell, and not because it was over 600 pages. Rather, I found both Inkspell and the first volume in this apparent trilogy, Inkheart, flat and clunky. This i..."

I didn't even bother to read the second one because I was so unhappy with the first. Thanks for providing some of this information.

I will second your recommendation of Fforde. I haven't read any of the Tuesday Next books, but I just finished reading the first in his Nursery Crimes Division series and it was fantastic. I'm not usually a big fan of mystery, but this hooked me. It was a fantastic pairing of real world and nursery rhymes world.



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