Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Inkheart

Last spring a student of mine came to class one day and practically shoved a thick, red book into my chest.

"You HAVE to read this, Mrs. Gira!" Julia pronounced with wide eyes and a shortness of breath.

"What is this?" I asked.  "I've never heard of it." 

"Oh. My. God.  This book IS my entire life.  Just promise you'll read it." 

Well, dang.  If it's YOUR LIFE then how can I possibly say no?  I love when students get excited enough about a book that they feel the need to force it upon me.  An English teacher's dream.

And with that I jumped into the world of Inkheart, where books truly come to life.  It may have taken me a good four months to complete it (things came up like exams, three other books on my nightstand, and raising a two-year-old) but I kept my promise and I'm glad that I did.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is a fantasy novel (trilogy actually) that could possibly rival the treasured Harry Potter series (although in my book, nothing ever could).  However, while reading, I could not stop feeling a strange likeness to Harry Potter.  Not so much in the story line but more in the likable characters and the obvious love that Funke poured into the novel.  I understand there is a big fan base for the Inkheart series and this is not at all surprising.  


Meggie is twelve-years-old and lives with her loving father Mo.  Besides a deep love and reliance for one another they also share a love of books.  Mo makes a living doing what he loves, binding books and Meggie is a voracious reader.  For years, Mo and Meggie have enjoyed their love of the written word and have shared many great stories together EXCEPT for one minor detail - Mo refuses to read aloud to his daughter. No matter how many times she begs he won't do it.  Ever.

As strange as this sounds, Mo has a very good reason for his refrain.  Mo possesses a special power.  When he reads aloud from a book the characters come to life.  They literally come out of the book and into the present world.  As you can imagine this can more often than not be a very bad thing.  Very bad indeed. When Meggie was a baby, Mo read aloud to her and her mother Resa one night from the pages of Inkheart, a story full of old-world characters including nasty, ruthless villains.  Needless to say, Mo's entrancing voice summoned out three fantastical characters - Dustfinger, Basta, and the black-hearted Capricorn.  To make matters even worse, Resa gets transported into the book and they haven't seen her since.

Twelve years later, Mo and Meggie find the mysterious Dustfinger standing on their doorstep and no sooner are they off to find and fight Capricorn in hopes of returning Resa to her family.

Funke's plot is probably every book lover's one true wish - to be able to bring written characters to life (I'm assuming this is why Julia claimed the book was HER LIFE). With an enticing story like this, Inkheart could really do no wrong. Perhaps even stronger than the plot is the development of the main characters, particularly Mo and Meggie.  You feel the love they have for each immediately and therefore are rooting them on the whole way.  My only hiccup with this novel was the length.  It was just too long and it didn't need to be.  Although I was engaged throughout the reading I did feel as though I was being dragged through certain parts. There were a few times when I thought to myself, "Okay.  Get on with it.  I can't wait any longer."  As a comparison to another lengthy fantasy novel, I NEVER felt that way when reading Potter.

Recommended Age: 12 and up (because of vocabulary and style)

Quality Rating (out of 5 stars):





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