Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Book 22 of 2012: Inkheart

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is a book that I've been wanting read for ages. I did start it once before but had a bit of a falling out with the person who bought it for me, set it aside and never really got around to picking it back up again. I did love the film and when I was rearranging my bookcase a couple of months ago I decided to pop Inkheart on there for when I'd finished with my Tolkien books.

For those of you who haven't read the book/seen the film, it's about a man who has the ability to read objects out of books. When he reads, things will appear in our world from the book he has read. One day, however, Mo accidentally reads his wife into Inkheart and brings three of the characters out. Flashforward and Capricorn, one of the bad guys he read out of the book is looking for Mo and his daughter, Meggie, gets swept into the whole scheme.
Now the first thing that I have to say about this book: It's a truly lovely looking book. I know you mustn't judge a book by its cover, but your really can't help but fall in love with such a lovely cover as this one. The book is also full of beautiful illustrations, a little decoration on the chapter heading and a little picture at the end of each chapter.

I really really enjoyed this book. It's clearly written by someone who loves books and reading. No one could come up with the descriptions used by Cornelia Funke without having a great deal of love for books. If I had read this book a little earlier I probably would have chosen this as my Book & Film Adaptation Tree book because I could quite easily have underlined the better part of this book to highlight my favourite passages. I could imagine the bits that other people would have liked, as they all share the same sort of love and books.

The quotes at the beginnings of the chapters were also a nice touch. All of the characters mentioned various books in the course of the story as well. As I read, I made a note of those which earned a mention and I've added them to my book journal in the 'To Remember' section I've give myself (my 'To Read' section fills up a little too quickly, 'To Remember' is a little bit more long term, I'm going to read them at some point, but maybe not as soon as those on the 'To Read' list). They really added to the story, you could kind of guess at what would happen in the chapter based on the quote which was used to start the chapter. Cornelia Funke must be very well read to come up with all those little links to the story.

I think it's also worth mentioning the fact that this book has been translated from the original German. Something needs to be said of Anthea Bell's work in translating such a lovely story. I should have mentioned something about translations when I reviewed The Diving-Bell and The Butterfly (translated by Jeremy Leggatt). Obviously, I've never read the original, and it's unlikely that I will ever be proficient in either language to do that, so I'm going to have to rely on translators to get the full essence of the story. It says a lot about the translator to be able to capture the story and make it all seem so magical. I just hope that the next books in the series will be translated by the same translator, or if not, that they'll stay very close in style.

As a Lord of the Rings fan, of course I picked up on every little nod to Tolkien's books. I was especially pleased at the fact that Meggie and Mo used Elvish letters from Lord of the Rings to send secret messages... I use the same letters for secret notes myself. I adapted the Dwarves Runes when I was about 14, and more recently I'd adopted a Tengwar script for the same purpose. It helps to keep private diaries private.

My copy of the book also has some extra pages in the back; little bits of information about the author, about the books that the characters had mentioned, other little facts and puzzles. It was geared towards children but I do enjoy getting a little something extra from a book. It did also have a couple of random chapters from Inkspell (the next book in the series) which I wasn't so enthused by.

I used to really enjoy samples of the next book. The Kathy Reichs Temperance Brennan series have the first chapter of the next book at the back and I used to like getting a sneak peek of what was to come, largely because I was going straight on to read the next book, so could read it at the end of the book then skip that bit of the next one. Now each time I read a book, I move onto an entirely new series, so by the time I come around to the next one I have to read that chapter again anyway to refamiliarise myself with the story.

The problem with throwing in (as far as I remember) Chapters 2 and 7 is that they're not really anchored to anything. I didn't really get into them because I wasn't sure what was going on, so I found myself skimming them more than anything. I'd rather have the first two chapters rather than two which don't follow on from anything and kind of give away bits of the plot (which are admittedly early in the book so won't give away too much). And I know, no one was holding a gun to my head making me read the teaser chapters, but they were there and I kind of felt compelled to read them.
"Meggie has inherited her love of books from her father. When she took refuge from a bad dream with him, nothing could lull her to sleep better than Mo's calm breathing beside her and the sound of pages turning. Nothing chased nightmares away faster than the rustle of printed paper."
Page 9

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