Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Jacob Reckless discovers a secret world behind the mirror in his father's office.  It's a world where fairy tales are real, from Sleeping Beauty to witches who eat children.  In this world, Jacob can escape from his depressed mother, missing father, and needy little brother.  This world is Jacob's alone, where none of his problems can follow him.  But then, after many years, Jacob's little brother follows him.  One mistake, and now it's up to Jacob to save his brother's life, and he doesn't have much time until his brother becomes a monster.

OK.  So, I didn't love Inkheart (please don't hurt me!).  I didn't not like it, I just...I kept saying to myself, "How am I on page 300 on nothing has happened yet?"  And yet, it was OK.  I just found it...slow.  Yes, I found it slow.  So I was interested to read this, what with it having some good buzz and I wanted to give Cornelia Funke another go.

It was not slow.  Not at all.  Great pacing.  Exciting, entertaining, and unusual in the fact that things do not work out very well for our hero.  He tries again and again to save his brother, and he fails again and again.  Nothing goes right.

I enjoyed the subtle blending of classical fairy tales in with completely new elements and creatures.  It would have been boring if we were just in a Snow White world, but there was just enough so you could easily grasp the feeling of where we were, while still being new and interesting.  It was a very violent world, which ties in nicely with classical fairy tales, because fairy tales, really, are not very nice.  The world is in the middle of a long-standing and very bloody war.

I found what Funke did with the war very interesting.  I didn't find myself identifying a "good" side and a "bad" side in the war.  The Goyle had been hunted and killed by the humans, because the humans disliked and feared their stone-like skin.  Now the Goyle retaliate.  Well, the humans shouldn't be killing others now should they?  But the Goyle retaliate by killing humans in mass.  Well...that's not very good either.  And back and forth it goes like that, getting some the Goyle perspective and some of the human perspective and realizing that there isn't a right or wrong side.  They're all wrong and they're just trying to trick and kill each other and get the upper hand and it will go on forever.

So I liked this very much.  Lots of intriguing, flawed characters.  No one was good or bad.  Adventure and love.  This is a book that will appeal to all kinds of readers.

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