Well that did take a while – Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

The reason it took me so long to get through Inkdeath is not because I was not enjoying it. I was. It was a combination of being busier than usual and it being a very, very thick book.

So, Inkdeath is the third book in a trilogy, Inkheart being the first one (also the only one to be made into a reasonably good movie) and Inkspell being the middle one. By far Inkdeath has the most, well, death and general darkness as well as tackling some pretty enormous questions not just limited to Ink World but life in general. Which is awesome because kids should always be able to think about complicated things like what makes a world real and who is writing our destinies.

The third book opens a few months after – SPOILER – Dustfinger’s death. Almost all the character, except Darius and Elinor are in Ink World and it’s not through lack of trying on their part. Maggie, Mo and Resa are living with the Black Prince and the other robbers, Farid is working for Orpheus in the hopes that he’ll read Dustfinger back to life and Fenoglio is bemoaning the way his story has started telling itself.

Unfortunately for everyone it gets a whole lot worse.

This is definitely comparable to the seventh Harry Potter book – sure up until now all the characters hadn’t had easy, comfortable lives but in the last book, man, their lives go from rough to torture. The book is so genre savyy that even when each character faces their personal moments of despair there are references to how suffering is what interests readers the most and that for a story to be a good there has to be real danger to the characters. Then another layer is added as all of the characters realize they were once the readers who relished in the characters’ suffering before they became those characters. The book is also wonderfully full of literary references which is really fun if you are a huge English lit nerd like me.

The relationships between the characters and the lengths they are willing to go to in order to protect each other are very interesting. Almost everyone has at least one kind of love triangle, although very few are simple ones. Farid for example loves Maggie but his devotion to Dustfinger gets between them. Mo struggles with his love for his family and his desire to be the robber/hero called the Bluejay.

My favourite relationship was Dustfinger and Mo. When Mo tells Dustfinger to “save our daughters” it’s just… beautiful.

Oh yeah – like all good fantasy, no one stays dead for a really long time.

This series is thick, wordy and full of references.  Never mind how dark and dismal they get by the end, just the reading level alone limits this book to older children (although I’m sure there are loads of really smart, capable younger kids who love it and some older children who still struggle to get through the piles of literary references because age doesn’t always/often reflect reading level).

So there you have it. A short, unfocused blog about Inkdeath – a book that presents challenging ideas worthy of children and probably a different set for adults.

Last movie I watched: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s been a long time. I’d forgotten how cute and little those three kids were when they started making those movies. Also, I want to be a wizard.

Last TV show I watched: The new episode of the Listener. The  Listener is a Canadian show about a telepath that lives in Toronto. I rarely watch it for the plot but I do really love Toronto and his very, very blue eyes.

Plus, it’s good to support Canadian shows! True story.

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My favourites are the cockroaches – Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

So, I read and adored The Hunger Games.

Upon accidentally discovering that Suzanne Collins had also written a children’s series I was super excited so several months later when I had money or felt like I needed a treat or something I acquired a copy of Gregor the Overlander (in the dark days when I didn’t have a library card where I was living so I had to buy the book).

I don’t mean to come down too hard on this novel because it was pretty good. It was also Collin’s first novel and those usually have some forgivable faults. The problem was that I had The Hunger Games in my mind the whole way through. The Hunger Games is much more awesome.

The story is about an eleven year old boy named Gregor, who is living with his mother, grandmother and sisters (although the older one is away at camp for the whole book) in an apartment in New York City. The younger sister, an adorable two year old named Boots falls down a grate in the laundry room and Gregor follows her. They end up in another world, called the Underland that is populated by people, cockroaches, rats, bats and spiders and end up going on a good old quest to save the whole world and find their father.

There were some parts of the book that I thought were really neat. The mood of it, the atmosphere in the dark Underworld which obviously has very little natural light, was incredibly pervasive (or maybe it’s just been really cloudy and gloomy the last few days) and fantastically well written. The different people in the Underworld were also really interesting. Each species felt very unique and lovable in their own ways. Boots, the two year old was adorable and her interactions with the cockroaches were consistently my favourite parts. In reality I’m glad that there are no six foot cockroaches in the world but after reading this book I almost wanted a few.

Obviously this book has some big similarities to Alice in Wonderland and a long list of other stories in which children fall or in other ways stumble through a mundane object and end up in a fantastic world. Gregor is kind of a stereotypical hero in a lot of ways – he’s brave and loyal and determined to do the right thing, sufficiently reluctant until the last possible moment and clever enough to put all the pieces together in the nick of time. There are a lot of well traveled, fairly typical fantasy/sci fi tropes – preoccupation with food, a traitor in the fellowsh… I mean questers, lots of traveling through enemy lands, an old wise mentor who has to bail part way through, a semi-cryptic prophecy, a hero who just wants to go home, an absent father and hordes of bad guys who are too stupid to live. None of these things are really bad to have of course, they are well used for a reason, but it felt like there were too many of them because I had more or less worked out the end before I was half way through the book and nothing really surprised me.

Evidently Suzanne Collins is also very interested in older siblings who will do anything to save their younger sisters.

All in all, I’ve decided that Gregor and the Overlander is a perfectly good kids novel but not an exceptional one. I’m interested in seeing where the next few books in the series go, but unlike Percy Jackson I can put off picking up the next book for a while.

I will now be much nicer to cockroaches.

Last movie I watched: Sharpe’s Justice. It must seem like all I do is watch Sharpe, but I swear this is not the case. I just seem to watch Sharpe as I finish books. Anyway, it’s one  of my favourite ones. Sean Bean is wonderful. As usual.

Last episode of TV I watched: Game of the Thrones!! Season finale. Which was very excellent. I can’t tell if I’m excited because the episode was fantastic or because I’m relieved that Tyrion is not dead. I don’t trust this show not to kill the characters I like. Anyway, Tyrion was awesome as usual and we got to see a different side of him, which made me love him even more. Daenerys is shaping up to be really interesting and I liked the visit from Khal Drogo, Arya is excellent and Jamie Lannister is growing on me.

Its always sad when a good season ends.