Monday, 15 December 2008

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I'm not sure how to review this book. As a children's story it was fantastic but it is also full of interesting ideas for any book lover. Who hasn't, adult or child, wished they could bring a favourite character out of a book, or disappear into the story themselves?

12 year old Meggie's father is a bookbinder and booklover who has obviously instilled a love of books into his daughter,although he has never read aloud to her. When a stranger arrives at their home looking for father, Meggie eventually has to be told why this is. Her father can read characters out of books and since he read some particularly unsavoury characters from a book, he has never read aloud again. But once these characters find him, he is forced to tell Meggie the truth and they both get drawn into a frightening world of alternative fantasy characters.

The story itself was fast paced and entertaining, and my 11 year old son loved it too so it definitely appeals to a child's mind. But the most interesting aspects of this book for me were the ideas about story telling and the power of words. The author touches on the fact that the writer of a story is always overlooked and usually forgotten about, and tries to remedy this in this story by involving the author in the successful conclusion to the book. This was an interesting idea for me and made me think about how i personally never think about the author of what I read and how their own circumstances can impact upon a novel, and perhaps that I should!

However, by far the most interesting idea for me was the interweaving of stories into stories. As well as the book in the story being Inkheart, so to start with its a book within a book, the author precedes each chapter with a passage from a different book, which is usually relevant to the action in the chapter. And as well as this there is a running theme throughout the book that suggests that our world is just a story, just as the world created in the book.

Perhaps the story in the book is just a lid on a pan; it always stays the same but underneath theres a whole world that goes on developing and changing like our own.

Do you know how your story ends?

The first of these is said by a real world character, musing on the world created when an author writes a story, and the second is said by a character from the story to a real world character. It just seems to blur the boundaries between story worlds and 'real' worlds. The book is full of such musings and seems to merge the ideas that by reading a story you immerse yourself into the world of that story, and that world actually existing.

Overall, I loved this book, both for the story and for the things it made me think about. So much that I think this review is a bit garbled because there was just so much I wanted to say! But I'm sure I'll get better at posting reviews the more I do.

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