January 12, 2009

John Connolly: The Book of Lost Things

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This book was a tricky one to read but not so tricky as I've heard it's been for others. I had wanted to read it months ago when I bought it in October but the book had about a one month disappearance until I was too busy to read it. Some might only joke that this book becomes lost but after a while you begin to worry about it missing from one of your bookshelves just because it's that book. In any case, I managed to read it without loosing it once during my reading this weekend. I looked up where my copy is from exactly (England) and am now wondering just how many journeys my own copy has had as it may have become lost multiple times in it's life.

I wasn't really sure what kind of book this would be before I started reading. I knew it had some sort of fair tales within and that some people don't recommend it to children. I also knew it was a favorite to some enough that they read it more than once a year. Since I know some people that might read this and haven't read or finished the book yet I'm going to try to stick to things mentioned on my book's jacket when it comes to spoilers. Again, my copy isn't from the U.S so I hope all will be okay due to any differences our covers may possess in story details and giveaways.

The main character of The Book of Lost Things is a twelve-year-old boy I reached out to immediately as he mourns the loss of his mother. Books had meant a great deal to his mother, particularly a book of myths, legends and fair tales he would read from to her. She felt so strongly about books that she would tell her son stories come alive in reading them out loud, after which they can transform you. This message held her spirit inside this book to me and seemingly to David as well, who always kept the book close after her death.

With his mother's passing books are no longer the same as they once were to David. They move without anyone touching them. He can understand books, too. They whisper things. (Bonus points to the first person who can name where I grabbed parts of the last three sentences from. I thought it would be funny to use here.) David keeps this to himself. Best not to be locked away.

The real and unreal seem to merge as David has night and then day dreams about a crooked man in a land where he has only been to in stories. Soon enough they collide, and David is in a new land away from the ongoing war that coincides in his own land. The Crooked Man is there, too, along with some familiar and yet unfamiliar characters as well. Nothing is as we knew them to be in the fairy tales we grew up to. These ones are all new. Connolly has created ones for which it won't matter where you grew up or what culture you're part of. You will have never read these. David hasn't, either, and is embarking on a journey said to be one of these tales as well.

I thought David made very significant character development in this book. Though a child to begin with, this is a story that changes and transforms him into someone much more grown up. I'm impressed with the author's ability to keep the book in a twelve-year-old's mind and yet fit for the older audience. I imagine most books in which the main character is such an age they are coined as children and young adult novels, something I've been told this is not.

Connolly's stories are very interesting and unique. I feel he could go on to write books which tie-in to this one if he wanted to. However, they would not be as strong and his messages have already been delivered. This book makes an excellent story on it's own as a standalone. Nothing is missing from it. I am sorry that I can't reveal why I gave it a barely imperfect rating without spoiling. If anyone is curious, ask in a comment and I will write about it there.


lefty33 said...

Is the "they whisper things" phrasing from Dumbledore's memory of Tom in the orphanage?

And, of course, I am very curious about your barely imperfect rating.

Kerian said...

I had too much caffine from chocolate that night, I apologise for the silliness. Yes, it was our dear Dumbledore in his memory visiting Tom at the Orphanage.

The imperfect rating...I am hitting myself over the head for not just making a comment of it right away. I can't remember! It's driving me slightly mad.

Since we're discussing this book on LT and I need to gather thoughts, I'm going to look over the book and cross my fingers the reason will slip back in my mind by tomorrow morning. I'll post it both here and there!

Dr. Suess's Green Eggs & Ham is stuck in my head now. Ack! I read that a hundred times too many to my youngest sister when she was little. I would speed through his books reading as fast as I was able to because it could always make her laugh.