iReview | Edition 6

Aug 14, 2010 in ,

Castle In The Air - Diana Wynne Jones

This sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle is set in Zanzib. Abdullah is a rather successful, sweet talking carpet salesman, but he’s constantly hounded by his father’s first wife’s relatives, who are a bossy bunch of rather large women who like to pester him about getting a wife (or better yet - a few). When one day, a scruffy old merchant comes to his stall with a tattered thing he claims to be a flying carpet, Abdullah is hesitant, because he’s accustomed to the many tricks a merchant has to sell his carpets. But the carpet does fly, as the merchant proves. He sells it for an unbelievably low price, and Abdullah is thrilled. But this deal is a little too unbelievable, so Abdullah decides to sleep on the carpet when night falls, to prevent it from running - or flying - away. He wakes up in a beautiful garden, and the girl of his fantasies - literally - appears before him. Flower-in-the-night has never before seen a man other than her father, and finds Abdullah very amusing. Smitten, and believing this to be but a dream, Abdullah promises to return the next night with pictures of many other man.

When he wakes up the next day, he finds that his dream was reality, and he’d somehow summoned the magic carpet to Flower-in-the-night. Now, he has one problem: What is the magic word he said that he can only say in his sleep? Nonetheless, he returns to Flower-in-the-night for two consecutive nights after falling asleep on the carpet, and on the second - and last - night, their plan is to wed. But just before she rides with him on the carpet, she’s snatched by a powerful djinn. Abdullah, joined with the carpet, a genie he acquires along the way, and an old soldier, now has to rescue Flower-of-the-night, and fulfill the prophecy made at his birth that he will rise above all others in his country.

The plot of this is very well thought out, as you will see at the end, but maybe just a little too much. Everything falls perfectly into place, but seriously, even in a world where djinns, flying carpets, and genies exist, what are the chances that so many coincidences could occur? Most of the language bears resemblance to the time period that this is set in, but the author makes rather big mistakes too, such as using the phrase “I am a total amateur,” for example. The word “total” is completely out of context, and it snapped me right out of the story. It will probably fall short of many fantasy or adventure loving fanatic, but it’s fit for a casual read. Sit back, read, and let the magic carpet take you away…

Jodi Picoult

While I usually do book reviews, I decided to do an author review today instead on an author that I’m pretty familiar with: Jodi Picoult. As you might know, Picoult is one of my favorite authors. The first book of hers that I read, is the highly acclaimed My Sister’s Keeper. I fell in love with this book, and so I bought another book of hers - The Pact. This one was a little too heavy for my liking at that time, but I loved every page of it all the same. It was when I was reading Perfect Match that I finally realized what all of her books have in common: the basic skeleton for the plot.

Every single book of hers has a lawsuit filed by an unlikely person (or in The Pact’s case, an unlikely situation), and it will tear the characters into two sides. In these two sides, there’s always a romance, whether it be with the spouses of two families, or the lawyer and psychiatrist, it’s always there. Of course, she has to throw in the fact that no one quite knows exactly what’s going on, until the very end. For the big finish, she’ll lead you up to the perfect ending where everyone is living happily-ever-after, then something tragic happens. The End.

With all that said, and with all of Picoult’s plots placed squarely in a single paragraph, I’m not sure she’s still my favorite author. While I admire the way she writes, along with her style, I’m not such a big fan of her plots anymore. While they were fun in the first 2, maybe 3 books, it gets tiring, and even the “surprise” ending doesn’t turn out to be a surprise anymore. After a couple of books, the plots become extremely predictable, and hence, boring. But I also have to add, that one of Picoult’s books did have a somewhat happy ending (considering the fact that the tragic ending already occurred in the beginning).

Picoult is nonetheless a great author who knows her skill well. But without strong plots that don't repeat themselves, I might not be a fan for much longer. Like I said before, I was wide-eyed and thrilled while reading my first few of her books, but the magic wore off after a bit. She needs to up her game, and changed things up with the plots. Perhaps try a whole different genre all together?