Tuesday, March 13, 2012

the book of lost things

Is this a children's book or an adult book? It's a very strange mix. It felt young adult at the beginning, with the angst and 12-year-old David. Then it felt like a kid's book since it incorporates so many fairy tales and has a certain childish whim about it. But there are lots of adult bits too, mostly in scenes that are just a little too ghastly, gross, or disturbing.

The story revolves around David, a young English boy living in London during WWII whose mother has recently died. When his father quickly remarries and David's half-brother is born, David is upset and starts acting out. He doesn't like his new stepmother and doesn't care about the new baby. He just wants everything to be like it was before his mother died. Caught up in his emotions, he starts to see and hear strange things (like books talking) and has fainting spells. And then one night in the midst of this, David ends up in another world, a fantasy world. In his quest to reach the king of this fantasy kingdom and find his way home again, David meets several guides that aid him and several monsters that test his courage and make him think about the life he left behind.

Some of the characters we meet are twists on old fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin), but the stories are always much darker than the originals. I didn't mind the use of them because they were always so different and I was curious to see how the author had changed them. There are also a few little plot surprises involved that I enjoyed. Finally, the writing was really well done at the beginning (it was never bad, but it didn't strike me much as the book went on).

Overall though, it was just okay. I wish the age group had been more clearly specified in the writing because it bounced around a lot and the story could have had more impact if it'd gone just one way. If it's an adult book, it could have had more mature themes and stories (and the childish voice that comes in at times could be eliminated). If it's a kid's book, obviously take out the scary bits.

TITLE: The Book of Lost Things
AUTHOR: John Connolly
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 January 2006
VERDICT: 3/5 stars. I enjoyed it but was a bit underwhelmed.


  1. I really enjoyed this book. I agree that the age group is somewhat inconsistent, but that's also true of all of Connolly's books that aren't part of his detective series. In a way, I really like that. It's a smart children's book in the way that there are smart children's movies that adults rave about. I'm not sure what it was about this book, but I really loved it. I think I got kind of spellbound by the writing and sadness of it all. I basically sat on my friend's couch and read it in a day and half.

    1. I hadn't read (or heard of) Connolly before, but that's interesting that he likes to sway into different age groups with his writing. I do really appreciate how different the book was and I agree, it was definitely a smart children's book (which makes it okay for adults). If I'd read it as a pre-teen, I think I would have loved it!


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