Touche, my little friend.
As some of you know, I have challenged my 7th grade classes to read 21 books this year. When they finish with each book, they have to write me a letter depending on what genre the book belongs to. So, why not write a bit about what I'm reading? Maybe it will make my minions happy when I tell them...
However, I was pleasantly surprised by Inkheart.
The best place to start is with an excerpt. Mo, one of the main characters, tells his daughter Meggie:
If you take a book with you on a journey...an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it...yes, books are like flypaper - memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.
When I find truths like this early on in a book, I am much more likely to continue reading. This particular passage was on page 15, and it wasn't 6 pages later, on the header for the next chapter, I found a quote from The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. If I hadn't been sold at that point, that would have done it. In fact, my Moleskine is full of names of writers I found through Inkheart, as each chapter has an apt passage from many different stories.
I really enjoyed the art throughout the book too. Funke's sketches are simple but compelling, though sometimes she uses the same drawing more than once - the only feature I wish would have been different.
The story itself is compelling too. Meggie is the protagonist, a young teen who loves to read. Her father is a book-mender, and we find out slowly that he is able to read things - and people - into and out of books. The major conflict begins when Meggie is only three; as Mo reads to his wife from Inkheart, she disappears and three characters from the book appear. Two of them are evil, Capricorn and Basta, while Dustfinger will do anything to return to "his" story. The ensuing action (which I will not reproduce here) is well done, and we find ourselves set up for a sequel as Basta survives along with the Magpie - Capricorn's mother.
I'm not yet sure how I feel about this leaving room for more. My initial reaction is that the story could have ended with Inkheart. I would have been satisfied seeing an end to Basta (who will surely die at the hands of Dustfinger at some point, albeit in one of the sequels), and the evil mother of Capricorn.
I haven't read the next part to the story, Inkspell, or the third book, Inkdeath. And I'm sure there's more to tell in the next two books...I'm just having a hard time getting over the need to make everything in the Young Adult genre a series. I suppose Funke surprised me before, maybe she'll come through again.