Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Inkheart vs Stravaganza & A Wrinkle In Time

Okay, those of you who follow me here know that I also have a blog on which I post my favorite quotes: Typeset Quotes. When I was on there today I clicked the Madeleine L'Engle tag and it took me to all of the posts on wordpress with that tag (which is odd & I don't like this feature) but it lead me to this post (which contains big spoilers for A Wrinkle in Time). In the post the author compares A Wrinkle in Time with Cornelia Funke's Inkheart. I brought this up with my friend Casye and I think that blog would have been better if they had continued with the Inkheart line of thought, because it was interesting. So I have a few points to add to what they said.

I will do my best to exclude spoilers, but I promise nothing for the little stuff. Big spoilers will not appear here, ever.

A Wrinkle in Time: main character is Meg
Inkheart: main character is Meggie

Well...yes, that's true, but I don't think that really says much about the book.

A Wrinkle in Time: father is mysteriously missing
Inkheart: mother is mysteriously missing

Okay, a good point, and a driving point in each book. This is actually a very common theme in books, to not have one parent there. It's definitely prevalent in Disney movies and I really do not understand that. The fact that one of the parents is gone is a good emotional topic with the main character. Do they feel resentment? Do they feel pain or sadness? Are they indifferent? Something like this can be taken in a lot of different ways.
Now, when we bring in the "mysteriously missing" part, we open a whole new world of questions. Where have they gone? When did they go? How did they get there? Was it against their will? Will the child find out? Does someone else know and keep this secret from the child? Will the child go to find them? Will they ever find them? These kinds of questions are the things readers wonder, and that's exactly what the author wants. These are the kinds of questions, when approached in a good way, make a great book. I think this worked out well for both of the examples listed.

A Wrinkle in Time: a stranger shows up on a stormy night (Mrs. Whatsit)
Inkheart: a stranger shows up on a stormy night (Dustfinger)

Okay, now this is the point that I really wanted to discuss. It is a very good correlation between the two books, but I think it can be taken a step farther. They are strangers that show up on a stormy night, yes, but they are also strangers who become integral to the plot and very important to the main character. Meggie would never have known about her father's gift in Inkheart if it were not for Dustfinger, nor would Meggie & Mo know about the kind of trouble they were in. If Dustfinger hadn't shown up at that time, who knows what would have happened. We may have never met Elinor! That would have been a travesty! And without Dustfinger the story would have ended at book 1 (and we wouldn't have been able to see Paul Bettany shirtless in the movie ;D )
In A Wrinkle in Time, nothing would have happened without the appearance of Mrs. Whatsit on that stormy night. We would not have known that Meg's father was still alive, that there was such a thing as a tesseract, anything about The Black Thing, never have met Mrs. Who & Mrs. Which, never gone to Uriel or anything else. We would have spent the next 100 pages sitting in the Murry's kitchen talking about how bed sheets have gone missing in the town. I don't think I am even exaggerating here. This is proof that a good character, or a good entrance, can be the deciding factor in the success of a book.
[On a side note, these are also my two favorite characters in their respective books.]
Now, when I was trying to think of other things to say between these books, all I could think of was how similar Inkheart was to the Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman. I've been thinking this a lot lately as I've just begun reading City of Secrets the fourth and newest book in the series. Let's take a look, shall we?

Inkheart: Main character can be transported in & out of book worlds
Stravaganza: City of Masks: Main character is transported between worlds with the use of a book
This is very imporant in both books, in fact, the entire plot of each book rests on this point. Inkheart would be nothing without the ability to bookjump (I'll borrow the phrase from Fforde's Thursday Next series). I mean, really, do you want to read about a book doctor? Let's spend whole chapters on how he chooses which endpapers to use. NOT. And City of Masks would have been extremely depressing if all it we read about was how Lucian was slowly dying of cancer. No, it's so much better if he gets transported to Talia where he is healthy and awesome and gets to have adventures. As readers, don't we all wish books would open themselves up to us in new ways and let us simply fall in? They already take us on adventures, but we only get to live these vicariously, wouldn't it be so much better if we experienced these for ourselves? I thought so, that's why these books are such a hit.

I need to cut this short because it's 23:49 and I have an anthropology exam at 900 which I know nothing for. But let me just add this one last thing:
Inkheart: Meggie has an aunt Elinor who is obsessed with books
Stravaganza: City of Secrets: Matt has an aunt Eva who is obsessed with books

I will try to expand on this tomorrow if I can.

To all you readers out there, I do highly recommend Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Stravaganza: City of Maks by Mary Hoffman, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, and also Thursday Next: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.


Anonymous said...

Excellent! This review/ comparison sums up why I became a fantasy/sci-fi addict beginning in fifth grade. It's nice to be reminded of why I love reading at all : )

Jez said...

:) A lot of these things are why I love fantasy as well.

Thanks for dropping by Eliza!

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