Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: Reckless (Funke)

Cornelia Funke 
ISBN-13: 9780316180191
Little, Brown Young Readers
Publication date: Sept. 14, 2010

Genre: Fantasy, fairy tale spin-off

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended

Give it to: Middle school boys and girls
Summary: Jacob Reckless entered the Mirrorworld when he was only 12 years old. Now, 12 years later, Jacob makes a good living in Mirrorworld as a magical treasure hunter.When Jacob's younger brother, Will, follows Jacob into the mirror, a dark fairy curses Will to become a Goyl, a ruthless soldier made of stone. With the help of Jacob's friend Fox and Will's fiancee Clara, Jacob embarks on a quest to save his brother before his transformation is complete. In the process, they stay in the Gingerbread House from Hansel and Gretel, encounter an ill-fated Sleeping Beauty and dangerous unicorns, and briefly fall prey to the Lorelei, river nymphs that resemble mythological Sirens.
What I liked: I LOVE the fairy tale tie-ins. They make the story unique and the events dark and dangerous. Reckless has a beautiful trailer that will entice readers.

What I didn't like: I so wanted to like this one--it has everything I love in a dark fairy tale fantasy: a courageous-but-troubled protagonist, a huge dose of Grimm's fairy tales, evil fairies, beasts made of stone, magical and dangerous creatures, greedy dwarves, a royal wedding. While many others review this title quite highly, I am afraid I can't honestly say that I enjoyed it. I struggled just to finish it. The characters are not developed. I just could not make myself care about whether or not Will stays a Goyl or if he becomes a human again. Readers know precious little about the characters or their motivations. We know Will loves Clara, even though the two barely speak to each other in the story and rarely show each other affection. Aside from that, Clara kisses Jacob and seems to long for him. We know even less about Jacob, who seems to have had quite an interesting life before the beginning of the story. Fox was interesting, but again, aside from her loyalty to Jacob and her ability to shape-shift, we really don't know much about her, either. 
I felt lost through many parts of the story. I would be reading, then suddenly the scene would change before I realized it. Was I just drifting off or daydreaming while reading? Perhaps. Or, maybe the transitions between scenes could have been a little more developed. I felt the same way with dialogue. Sometimes, the person I thought was speaking ended up being someone else.

I am also bothered by the possibility that Jacob and Clara might actually end up together. That just seems wrong to me after all the trouble they go to to save Will. Kind of like, let's cure him then break his heart. By the end of the story, that isn't exactly resolved. 
My rating: Additional selection, only because I've seen some very good reviews of this book. Some students will really like it, but I am going to have a hard time recommending it to mine. 

Sexual content: mild; there are several references to Jacob "sleeping with" fairies (or possibly being a sex slave, but nothing is specific).One kissing scene.
Language: None
Violence: mild-medium; quite a bit of fairy tale violence, which is true to the original Grimm's fairy tales. Disney versions aside, the originals are quite violent. A bloody wedding massacre, one character gets murdered and brought back to life, Jacob gets cut and bleeds often.