Started Reading: 1st November 2016
Finished Reading: 22nd November 2016
Number of Pages: 321
Published: September 2008
This review may contain spoilers. You have been warned!
My favourite book is The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. Throughout this reading challenge, I have searched for a book that has a similar format: a quest set in a fantasy world.
I am pleased to say that I finally found it in the form of The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly.
It is set around World War 2 and is about a 12 year old boy, David, who loses his mother to a long term illness. He struggles to cope with this loss and to accept his dad's new wife and his new step-brother.
He begins to hear his mother's voice and eventually follows it through a crack into a different world.
The world is based off Grimm's fairy-tales and you will find references to them all over the place, including Snow White and her dwarfs. However, they are just references and they are not exactly how they seem.
This book also has some incredibly dark moments. I think this book is targeted to a younger audience (given the age of the main character), but this doesn't cause it to hold back from gory details and disturbing ideas. I think this is in-keeping with the grittiness of Grimm's original works.
For me, it took a while for David to get into the fantasy world and for the adventure to truly begin, but once he is there, there isn't a dull moment. Every chapter has something going on and is an adventure on its own and I love this. I think this is why I love The Hobbit as well. I was gripped right up until the final pages.
The climatic finale was done well but there was a bit of a "deus ex machina" resolution, but it is done in a way that makes sense in the context of the story.
One of the things I was worried about, was that he would wake up and find that it was "all a dream". To a certain extent this happened and was disappointing. However, one of the themes of the book is the idea that these stories are in other worlds that are real. So even though this all occurred "inside his head", it doesn't mean it wasn't "real". David is still a changed person when he comes out of the coma and in the final chapter, it is revealed that everything that the Crooked Man (the main protagonist) said would happened, happened.
The final chapter gives us a summary of the rest of David's life up to his death. It is sadly full of pain. But in his final moments he "returns" to the other world in an incredibly heartwarming moment.
This is probably my favorite book that I have read this year so far. Despite the book appearing to be targeted towards young teens (as that is the age of the main character), it doesn't hold back on the grittiness and deals bluntly with themes of grief and loss. An excellent read for all ages.
The 12th and final book of the reading challenge will be a Christmas themed one: The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. Decided that I have to finish this book and the whole challenge by Christmas Day.