Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Book of Lost Things Book Review

Rawr Reader,

    Hello there, today I'll be reviewing The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. Here is the synopsis given by Goodreads:

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

   My best friend recommended this book to me since at the time I wanted to order some new books and couldn't think of any good ones. She said it was one of those books she just couldn't put down and that made someone like me more than a little curious. :)

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
    How do I say this? I feel like someone grabbed a bunch of sweets and tried to stuff them down my throat. All whilst saying "You will like this story Nicole!" Now don't take this as completely bad, but it isn't entirely good either. Hmmm, how to express my feelings without spoiling anything...
    This story's beginning was r~o~u~g~h-- and slow. Many beginnings are like that, but this one took me almost 60 pages for it to finally get interesting. I've read a book very similar to this, where kids are taken from the real world and are taken to a new magical one that consists of fairy tale characters they believed to be fictional, and discover FTC's "true" though twisted tales that the real world has manipulated. Yes my friends, this book reminded me a lot of The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer (which I highly recommend, I could not put that book down!). However, unlike The Book of Lost Things, I actually liked TLOS... Sorry how that makes me sound, but this story just didn't do it for me. It was the darker side of imagination which I don't mind, but how Connolly wrote David's journey was sluggish. Like in mud.
     I guess because lately I've been reading a lot, I was sort of irritated when on my down time I came to relax with this book and discovered it consisted of massive blocks of paragraphs of narrative details. While details are important--I'm not one to tell a writer to omit details and descriptions of the story--Connolly for me went on and on and I just wanted to get to the action. Or dialogue. Which I felt was lacking. This book was 70% description, 30% dialogue I'd guess and that is waay too much for me.
    Then Nicole, what do you like if you don't want to read descriptions?? Well, my fellow reader, I like to have a balance between seeing the story and hearing the story. Yes, I'm one of those crazy people that actually can see and hear the story alongside the characters (if the book is intriguing enough, which this book in a sense was just) and if all I'm doing is seeing what's happening in a story, I feel cheated in all of the other ways I could "live" in the world. And this story is primarily in the fairy tale world so I wish I could have had a better experience in it.
    In the back of my book it says it's for ages 10+, which I need to talk about for a minute. Alright, *takes a breath* I felt the style in which the story was written, the vocabulary and language used was intended for later elementary/middle school. However, there was some graphic stuff in this book that in more than one occasion I paused where I was reading and checked the back to make sure I read that right. Ages 10 and up? Really?? Who decided that? Like for one Connolly isn't shy about ruining children's innocence. Maybe it was just how I was raised in a more sheltered household or not, but I don't think kids about 5th/6th grade read about throats being cut or torture mechanisms or straight up sex in a book centering on a 12 year old. Yes, this is a coming of age book like many books for kids are, but maybe I'm only seeing it in this light because I'm older than the age range this book is aimed for. Regardless, I was surprised. 
    David as a character is one whom I actually enjoyed reading about. He has flaws and superstitions like some children do, but that just made him stand out just enough for me and it makes the death of his mother in beginning harder on me because I knew how sweet and caring David really was. I mean, he does these weird counting rituals in the hopes that it will help his mom only a little. Oh David, if I have a kid I hope he's just like you. A loving, caring, and imaginative heart, where could he go wrong?
I rate this book 3/5 stars. I doubt I'll read it again, but I'd only recommend it to someone who likes adventures or twists on fairy tales.

Author's Quote:
“Stories wanted to be read, David's mother would whisper. They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life.” 
― John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

If You'd Like to Check out my Goodreads:

Next To Read:
Sever by Lauren DeStefano

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
    I'm going to start at the beginning of where it started to get interesting. Rose. That-- pardon my language-- bitch!! Once she hit him I was like oh-no-you-didn't, but then she tried to apologize which is expected. But then she had the nerve, no the balls to wait for the dad to come home and then only tell him about David being disrespectful. Completely omitting the fact she hit his son. I was furious that was the moment that Connolly decided to spring David into another world, but I kept thinking until the end, "oh I can't wait to see what happens with Rose and the father at the end." I didn't grow up with both parents in one household, so when I read how Rose just snapped and hit David, in all honesty if I were there I probably would've just kicked her ass. Sorry, but anyone who gives me an excuse that she was hormonal or tired from Georgie can just tell it to someone else because she just wasn't a redeemable character at all. Before she was tolerable, but she did it for me once she hit David.
   And then that ending! Oh, Connolly decided to screw with me more. Yes Connolly made sure David had grown and grew to love 
Georgie and respect Rose by the end, but he made it too easy when the first thing he said to her after waking up was "I'm sorry." I'd be like, "bitch I'm waiting for your apologize for hitting me." Okay, maybe not literally, but I'd probably be thinking it. Though I would wait for her to apologize, too. Anyway, aside from Rose, Connolly clearly wanted me to like this book no matter what and carry along a message with it. That's why he decided to tell me what happened to David after he came back to earth. And honestly, he shouldn't have done that. He should've just stuck to a coming of age story and left the rest of David's life to the imagination of the reader. Revealing that the parents ended up divorcing, the father dying, Georgie dying, David's wife and newborn baby dying all at young age was like someone punching me into the ground, bringing me ten feet deeper into the ground each time they punched me. And it was one after another after another. I mean, damn Connolly, do you want me to cry? Did you want to see tears?? I guess he was trying to follow the Grimm Brother's footsteps in the way of telling kids stories, making them learn a life lesson by simultaneously making them have horrible memories of someone in their heads. Because David became real to me, Connolly was a magnificent in characterizing him. Don't get me wrong, Connolly can tell a story, but I felt he added too much to this story and should've left a lot out.
   The Woodsman. Alright, I liked him. How couldn't you? He took in a lost and confused child and protected him like a father. And then he died. Okay, my heart tore a bit but not everyone can live. But then the end, he came back. I literally laughed out loud because I felt like Connolly had no other way of getting David back home and he cheated and was like, "ploop! actually JK, the Woodsman really ended up surviving." Despite the whole scene of him losing his ax and getting torn apart and being carried away by a pack of wolves. Fiction indeed! However I have to say I like the paternal authoritative character he implemented on David at every time they met: he helped him find his way, he helped him get back home, he helped him find his happiness in death. Actually the concept of David's death reminded me of other written works such as Lord of the Rings (though I haven't read them I've heard) and The Chronicles of Narnia, in that death seemed to be as if a person could literally travel there if they chose to. It made the world of fairy tales more magical and spiritual and it gained some points from me for that.
    I also liked the fact he included fairy tales in it. I don't know what I was expecting when I first started reading, but once he kept introducing FT characters like the Woodsman, trolls, Red Riding Hood, the Seven Dwarves, etc, I became more interested in reading (though it was still slow.) However, Connolly included his own twists to creatures like the Harpies, some scaly winged creatures (loosely based off of Greek myths), or creatures from children's imaginations like the Beast or Loups, half-dog half-man, or creatures that could be put together-- the deergirl by the huntress. Yes, there's a lot going on. Which I like but then I dislike. I dislike it because overall, sometimes encounters didn't seem as important. Like David and Snow White for example. Other than to include a twist on what Snow White what have looked like and how she would have acted, she didn't push the story along. The same with the deergirl and the huntress. They were perhaps just other stories Connolly wanted to include that were interesting but didn't do anything more than interest the reader than benefit the character. Going on off of fairy tales, I found it interesting that Connolly chose the Woodsman and Roland to present David with tales which helped him grow from boy to "man." (Which every time I read man I laughed since I kept thinking to myself, this kid is 12, I bet he hasn't even reached puberty yet.) But I digress...
    The antagonist of this story is the Crooked Man. Aka the Trickster. Aka Rumple-- "Oh what was that name again? Never mind, never mind..." Haha, the Crooked Man though enigmatic at first, became a well-rounded character and his genesis as simultaneous to that of man made him a very intriguing villain. Obviously he's basically pure evil or the devil but he was what fear and darkness build from. He's the nightmares that every child fears and chapter 29, while graphic, was one of the strongest chapters in TBOLT and I'm very happy Connolly chose to dive deeper into the world of the Crooked Man; how long he had been tricking children and how evil he truly was. While heroes are usually the only ones people can ever praise, what David is of good the Crooked Man is of bad. He has literally no redeeming qualities to himself yet he is the embodiment of evil. And whether in this world or another fantastic one, evil will be and for that, Mr. Connolly, I have to say you bring nightmares and evil to a whole new level.
    But darn you. Darn you very much.

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel


  1. HAHA Aww well I loved it~ I'll have to definitely buy a copy and re-read it again. Just reading your review brought up so many memories and recollections of the characters and the sick twisted takes on classic fairy tales--well I guess they were already twisted (technically) The saddest moment that stuck with me most in the book was the Knight looking for his 'comrade' it was so sad and sweet. IDK I just really enjoyed the book all and all.^^

    1. I'll do you one better, I'll give you my copy :0)