Thursday, 20 May 2010

Foreign Language Friday: Inkdeath

Dear Blog,
As I write, it is Thursday. I’m writing this entry on my laptop at 10pm because I’m out pretty much all day tomorrow. My laptop doesn’t have the internet on it, but tomorrow morning I might have time to copy over this entry to my blog on the main computer downstairs and publish it. .

I must admit it seems a little funny to be reviewing the third book in a trilogy without having mentioned the other two on my blog. But I read the other two a while back and I only read Inkdeath a couple of weeks ago, and it’s still fresh in my memory. I’m planning to re-read the first two books in the trilogy-Inkheart and Inkspell-at some point soon, so I’ll review them too.

Name: Inkdeath
Written by: Cornelia Funke
First published in: Germany as Tintentod
Translated by: Anthea Bell.
Summary (from the blurb): Life in the Inkworld has been far from easy since the extraordinary events of Inkspell, when the story if Inkheart magically drew Meggie, Mo and Dustfinger back into its pages.
With Dustfinger dead, and the evil Adderhead now in control, the story in which they are all caught has taken an unhappy turn. Even Elinor, left alone in the real world, believes her family to be lost-lost between the pages of a book.
But as winter comes on there is reason to hope-if only Meggie and Mo can rewrite the wrongs of the past and make a dangerous deal with death…

Review: Apparently following JK Rowling, Cornelia Funke is the most popular children’s author. And with reason! I first encountered her when I was nine, and I borrowed the audiobook of The Thief Lord from the library. I put it in our family’s car and I used to be disappointed when we walked to and fro. I kept asking my mother if we could take the car instead.
I devoured Inkheart when I was ten or eleven and read Inkspell about a year later, so it made me so very happy when Inkdeath came out. I rushed out and bought it in hardcover.
Inkheart was amazing. I loved it! A book about books! What could be better?! And though it wasn’t quite as fantastic, Inkspell kept me up late for several nights in a row as well. All the twists and turns of the plot had me spellbound, the magical characters leapt off the page.
Alas, in Inkdeath, the twists and turns of aforementioned plot were too many to keep track of. It was like wandering around in a big maze. Only a few things mattered, really: defeating the Adderhead, keeping Meggie and Farid together, and returning to normality. So why did the author throw in a load of other characters and give practically each one their own plotline? Concentrating and making sense of it was like untangling a big ball of wool. And as a knitter, I know how infuriating that can be. There was an epic cast of characters and locations at the back. It doesn’t need to be 712 pages, dear blog.

And what happened to what characters I actually cared about? Meggie turned into a small, spineless, simpering shadow (no alliteration intended) of the awesome heroine she was in the first two books. She kicked butt (that doesn’t sound quite so cool with my English accent as it does when Americans say it. Please can an American just read this paragraph aloud to say it as it was intended?). But in this book she just pined after Farid the whole time. There’s no time for teenage angst, my friend. The Inkworld needs saving! You’ve got to get out there and restore everything! Yeah! *punches air*
She seemed to fade away into the background to be replaced by…

Mo. Who for no apparent reason became the Bluejay even though he kept saying he wasn’t. I think he was supposed to be the real “hero” of the story. Alas. I’m afraid children don’t find it as thrilling when adults save the day. At least this one doesn’t. 
Indeed. Meggie and Farid, what spineless little creatures they were in this book, seemed to be the only children around. Did Cornelia Funke forget who she was writing for? Even if she was writing for under 18-year-olds, Inkdeath is much darker stuff than the first two books and seems much more like a teenage book than the first two.

Two things: as ever, Anthea Bell does a top job of translating. She was the genius behind the transformation of The Princess and the Captain from French into English, and she does it again! Another thing: the illustrations at the end of most of the chapters and the quotes from books at the start of each chapter are cool. The illustrations are pretty, but, well, that doesn’t make up for the story I’m afraid.

Summary: Definitely, in my opinion, the worst of the three in the trilogy. Anybody who read and loved the first two would stay away, or at least borrow the paperback copy from the library instead of blowing £12.99 on the hardback edition. Sorry, Cornelia Funke. As much as I love the rest of your books, Inkdeath wasn’t much fun at all. I feel really guilty rating this 2, but I need to be honest.  

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