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A Reader of Fictions: For My Brother - Blue October

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, September 19, 2010

For My Brother - Blue October

Reckless, Book 1

Author: Cornelia Funke
Genre: fantasy
Pages: 394
ARC Acquired From: Little, Brown and Company booth at ALA 2010

Brief Summary:
After John Reckless abandons his wife and two sons, the family sort of falls apart. Jacob, the oldest son, tries first to find some clue as to his father's whereabouts, which is what leads him into his father's study, a room he is not supposed to enter. In a fit of rage, he starts ripping books off of shelves and pulling down his father's model airplanes. Out of one of the book falls a note on a small slip of paper, which says "The mirror will only open for he who cannot see himself." This leads to an in depth examination of the elaborate mirror in his father's study, behind which he discovers another world. Jacob retreats more and more to the other world, one of fairy tales and war, more and more often, escaping the pain of the 'real world' in his treasure hunting. His carefree life in the mirror world ends on the day when his brother follows him in and gets caught up in a terrible curse. Now Jacob must save his brother Will before time runs out.

When I started this book, I knew absolutely nothing about it, except that it was by Cornelia Funke. Mine is actually a signed copy! Much like with Inkheart, you can since Cornelia's true love of the written world, although here the character escapes into the world populated by fairy tale characters rather than bringing book characters into the real world. Also much like Inkheart, the book is very dark. None of the characters come through as shining examples of humanity; no one is perfect.

The story is interesting, and, I suspect, not over. The ending felt a bit abrupt, so I rather hope there is more to come. If it ends as is, I warn that it is not an entirely happy ending. The fairy tale world is populated with terrifying creatures from fairy tales, more of the original Grimm brothers' sort than Disney's sweet, happy kinds. This book, unlike her others, is not for children or, at least, it has not been written with them in mind. Although I believe it is being marketed to schools anyway, this book seems in a lot of ways best for adults or old teens.

The main weakness of the book for me lay in some of the construction. Funke chose to use an omniscient third person narrative. Although the character most closely followed is Jacob, other characters have chapters from what is essentially their perspective. There are frequent interjections in italics, which represent the thoughts of a certain character. Since she shows the thoughts of many of the characters at various points, she has to clarify which character is meant by including the name of the character in question each time. This means that every couple of pages there will be a thought like this one: "Impatience, Jacob. Say it as it is. After all, it's one of your most prominent character traits." The repetition of the name in the thoughts becomes extremely obnoxious. Yes, one occasionally throws one's name into a self-admonition, but not anywhere near this often. This could have been better constructed.

Still recommended despite a few flaws. Cornelia Funke's books are well-worth the time to read them.

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