Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: RECKLESS

Sorry for the lack of a teaser guys. My muse has well and truly deserted me, it seems, leaving me to stare at the ceiling and wait for it to return. It’ll come back. Eventually. No worries.

At any rate. For my birthday I received a copy of Cornelia Funke’s newest novel, RECKLESS. I got the chance to finish it before Thanksgiving break (which I was not anticipating: maybe this writer’s block is good for something after all? :P) and wow am I glad.

This book is marvelous. And I’m not just saying that because Cornelia Funke is one of my favorite authors (which she is; I love her work so much that I’m currently doing a whole Italian presentation (in Italian… memorized… irp!) on Venice just so I can talk a little bit about THE THIEF LORD). This book is really, really great, and I loved every second of it. I might have to reread it in the near future, as it was one of those “omgsogreatmustkeepturningpagestoseewhathappensnextohwaitdidIskipthatparagraph?” books.

There are two things that really stood out for me in this: worldbuilding and characterization. Both of them were superb.

Worldbuilding first. RECKLESS is all about Jacob Reckless, a man from our world who found a mirror-portal into another world. This other world is basically every fairy tale imaginable smushed into one place – and given a nasty twist. Everything is both beautiful and sinister at the same time. And Funke so seamlessly integrates each separate fairy tale – Sleeping Beauty’s castle, the golden ball from the Frog Princess, the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel – that it’s very plain that each piece belongs together in that world. It’s an absolutely fascinating concept.

Secondly, characterization. WOW. There are four main characters in the story – Jacob, his younger brother Will, Will’s girlfriend Clara, and Fox, a girl from the Mirrorworld who is able to transform into a fox and is Jacob’s constant companion. There are so many layers to each of these characters it’s unbelievable. Jacob, for example, began leaving his home world for the Mirrorworld at age 12, coming up with increasingly complex excuses, always covering his tracks, and in the Mirrorworld he’s a treasure hunter, skilled at fighting and bribery and theft. But then Will comes to the Mirrorworld and Jacob’s ruthless, cold fa├žade starts cracking. Will is Jacob’s trusting brother, but he is wounded when he follows Jacob through the mirror and is literally turning to stone. Throughout the story all sorts of complexities arise due to tension with his oft-absent older brother and the things the stone is making him forget. Fox is one of those enigmatic characters Funke excels at – you never know everything about her, but you really want to find out. She chooses to spend most of her time as a fox instead of a human, which makes you wonder why. It also adds layer upon layer of problems regarding her relationship with Jacob. Clara starts out like a stereotypically innocent character, and just as I was beginning to think “Clara’s not as complex as the others,” BAM there’s a big secret for Clara to keep. It’s really fascinating.

If that’s not enough to interest you (and it should be), Funke did some really fabulous pencil illustrations for the first page of each chapter. They’re hauntingly beautiful, as is the whole book. Really, I think the only thing that could possibly annoy me about it was that the print was so large and the margins and space around each line so huge. Really? The main character’s 24, we can read slightly smaller print, thanks.

In all seriousness, though, this book is really fantastic. It was a great birthday present (thanks, Mom :) ) and you all should go read it RIGHT NOW.


  1. Totally putting this on my TBR list! Awesome review. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sounds really really good... All I've been reading lately is govt docs on ancient Pueblo people... Which has it's own merits but I am itching for some good fiction and Cornelia Funke does not disappoint...

  3. Ahh, this sounds awesome and really different. I'm adding it to my TBR.