Search This Blog

Monday, 9 May 2011

From The Prince of Mist to All Quiet on the Western Front

It's been an interesting journey through the twists and turns of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Prince of Mist, but now it is finally drawing to a close.

So overall, what did I think of this? I think that this is a good book, if quite hit and miss at times.
In terms of the story, it's very engaging and I imagine that if I had picked it up when I was around 13, I would have loved the mystery and the secret history that the characters have. But that isn't to say that it's perfect, far from it. My main problem with the book was the sheer amount of pointless scenes, seemingly purely to show that these characters are as normal as normal can be; an audience should not still need convincing of this around chapter 9, seeing as there are only 18 chapters in total. My other problem is how the ending is dealt with. For a conclusion to the conflict that's as brutal and uncompromising as this, the final chapter and the epilogue did a poor job of dealing with it.
The characters are, for the most part, wonderfully written. Out of all the characters though, the one who seemed to have the most attention lavished on him was Cain, the eponymous Prince of Mist. I'll admit, he was probably my favourite character, if only because he made me laugh sometimes. He goes through a strange process of becoming less scary the more the reader knows about him, which is probably why we're never actually told what his origins are, which is nice I suppose.
Overall, an imaginative, well-written book with plenty of suspense and mystery, that is let down by the occasional weak moment. It's going to sound odd, but I think that if Zafon had written this with adults in mind instead of "young adults", the weak moments could have largely been avoided; having read both of the adult works of his that have been translated into English at around the age of 15-17, I can say with confidence that he is much more in his zone as a writer when addressing an older audience. In any case, the overwhelming sense that I got from my time growing up is that adults seem to think that we're simpler than we are: a story is more engaging when the author isn't simplifying his language for the 13-17 year old sales demographic, because we know that the author isn't pandering to us. But, I will admit that this is Zafon's first published novel, so I can forgive him for some mis-steps, considering he wrote two of my favourite books ever. My final rating: 3.5/5

Now to preview my next book for review. Largely considered a classic war novel, I'll be reviewing All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. My edition is somewhat unhelpful by not providing a blurb with which I can give you a taste of the kind of thing that is to come, so I'll be using one from Wikipedia. It's sad, I know.
"The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front." 
Not a very good blurb, but the only one I could really find that got the job done. I'll admit, I'm not going into this one completely blind, as I watched the film adaptation as part of my high school History class, but I don't remember it that well, considering that the class was pretty noisy as it was the last lesson before summer holidays and the teacher looked to be on the verge of mental collapse. So I'm near blind, which is good too. In any case, I hope you enjoyed joining me with The Prince of Mist and I hope that you enjoy All Quiet on the Western Front as well.

Signing off,

No comments:

Post a Comment