Tuesday 10 February 2009

Two almost completely wasted hours

I'm sorry to do this, but I have to drop another negative book review on your head. I recently plowed through Lloyd Alexander's classic children's novel The Book of Three, on the excited and insistent advice of my dear husband.

This book has lots of things I like: a basis in olde mythes (in this case, Welsh), swords, bad guys (in this case, a bad guy wearing a skull with antlers for a mask), and animals that communicate with humans.

That's all well and good, but The Book of Three was missing some other things I also really like and which are somewhat more crucial to my enjoyment: good writing, unstilted dialogue, good pacing, characters that don't seem like lame rip-offs of Tolkien characters (i.e., the embarrassingly Gollum-esque Gurgi), and un-sexist portrayals of female characters (please, if you're going to be sexist, at least make it interesting by coming up with some new way of being so instead of the usual chattery, vain, shrieky approach).

I'm sure I'm shitting on a lot of people's favourite childhood book here and I'm sorry for that; I'm even willing to admit that I probably would have really enjoyed this book had I read it before 1985 or so, but for me it didn't stand up to the adult read like so many children's books do (such as Skellig, The Mouse and His Child, The White Darkness, His Dark Materials, etc.).

Hubby insists that Alexander's series gets better but life is too short, thank you very much, for spending with books that might become simply less annoying than this one was.


Rohan Maitzen said...

Sorry if you already wrote on this series and I missed it, but do you like (or did you like) the Susan Cooper 'Dark is Rising' books? I was enthralled by these as a young'un, and reread a couple of them recently and found them still quite gripping.

raych said...

THIS IS WHY WE BLOG! Thank you for sparing me this.

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

Since you mentioned it, The Mouse and His Child really is fine reading for adults. It's the only kids' book I know that features a parody of Samuel Beckett.

Bookphilia said...

Rohan: You were the third person in one day to recommend the Cooper series to me so I clearly must and will read it.

Raych: You're so right. You've spared me many bad reads in the past!

AR: Yes, the Beckett parody is brilliant. :) I'm so happy I read that one as an adult.