I always get excited when someone recommends a book to me that turns out to be German. (Did you, for example, know that The Neverending Story is a German book? For an embarrassingly long time I didn’t, and I live in Germany.) I get excited about reading things in their original language. Sometimes a translation can add even more magic to a book (I heart you translators all), but I get a special feeling of closeness when I can read the author’s own words.
In this case, the recommendation came from my mom, who had given me the movie adaptation of Tintenherz/Inkheart for a birthday past. The movie was pretty cheesy, but the story was nice. So I finally went to the bookstore and bought a copy. That in itself was special. I usually have to special order the books on my to-read list because like I said, I live in Germany.
In book form the story is nice. The lead characters are all book worms—one a young girl who reads obsessively, one an older woman who collects rare books, one a book binder with a magical talent for reading. I always enjoy a story that depicts reading as something adventurous, exciting, even dangerous, and Tintenherz is all over that. Reading out loud in Tintenherz can make the stories, literally, come to life, and any story that might help kids get passionate about reading is ok by me. Every chapter starts with a quote from another book that foreshadows the coming chapter’s plot, which struck me as a clever way to suggest further reading to the person on the other side of the cover.
But the pacing was a bit slow (no Harry Potter-esque swallow-’em-whole obsession developing here, I am sad to report), perhaps because it is a young adult book that was truly written for young adults. Things get dark, but no cold-killer children (I’m looking at you Hunger Games), no complex relationships or politics, just a very straight-forward adventure. Perhaps because of this lack of over-all complexity, I found myself unable to deeply connect with any of the characters. The bad guys are so bad that they gave me a stomach ache, and the good guys are just sort of ho-hum. They are all alright, I guess, you think to yourself. Quite pleasant. Which is not the stuff a deep reader-character attachment is made of. At least not for me. I enjoyed the ride, but I was largely unable to lose myself in Tintenherz‘s world, had to really push myself to actually finish. All the same, I’ll be reading the next two. Because books are dangerous, man, and who knows what is going to happen next.
Five out of ten evil villains. (Is this actually a good thing? You decide.)
Where I got it: Büchergarten, Frankfurt am Main, Germany