28 November 2016

Book Review: Reckless - The Petrified Flesh


Reckless: The Petrified Flesh Book Review

Rating: ✭✭ (3.5)

Title: Reckless: The Petrified Flesh
Author: Cornelia Funke
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fiction, Adventure
Publication: 29 Sep, 2016
Format: e-Arc, 336 pages
Source: Many thanks to Pushkin Press on Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book.

Jacob Reckless has discovered a doorway into under world - a place of dark magic, fearsome ogres, beautiful and dangerous fairies, scheming dawrves and men born from stone. All from behind a mirror in his father's office.
In this world behind the mirror, Jacob hunts for treasures and seeks adventures with Fox, a girl who can change forms from vixen to girl, who protects him from danger.
When Jacob's younger brother Will is attacked by the Goyl after following him through the mirror, Jacob must risk his life to get back Will's freedom and reverse the curse that threatens to set his life and his skin in stone.

Reckless: The Petrified Flesh is a revised edition of the dark and magical first novel in the Mirrorworld series by Cornelia Funke. I really enjoyed Reckless but wish that I could have given it more stars. I had read the first edition years ago and was excited to read the revised edition because I remember that I loved the originality of the story and the characters. Unfortunately, the book didn’t live up to my expectations and I was too naive to really see what was going on with the book. 

I really liked Funke’s writing style - it was so immersive and engaging for the reader. Imagination was definitely her strong point and she artfully recreated fairy tales such as Briar Rose (or Sleeping Beauty) and Hansel and Gretel, exploring the true and darker versions of the Grimm tales. I liked this aspect of the novel because it added something extra and enticing to the Mirrorworld. There were also lots of metaphors of love, fear and adolescence that were reflected within the fairy tales and this gave the book an even more magical feel. 
At some points within Reckless, the writing was confusing and I didn’t know what was going on. I found out that the book had been translated from German to English so perhaps that played a role in the grammatical/punctuation errors. Another problem with Reckless was that it lacked description despite being filled with so much of it. The Mirrorworld was very detailed but Cornelia missed the mark on important aspects and pivot points of the plot. There were so many things presented to the reader but were never touched on or explained.

Reckless had the right amount of action and suspense to keep the reader interested. There was something very mysterious about that made it so interesting - especially how the world was accessed through a mirror.
The plot definitely had potential but it needed work and more development. The novel started right in the middle of the action, after Will had already been bitten and was starting his transformation into a Goyl, but we were weren’t given any background information to really get a true grasp on what was going on. Eventually, it all became clear but that cycle just happened over and over as new characters and ideas were presented with no explanation or backstory again. 
Nevertheless, the plot was entangled with fantasy just as Sleeping Beaty’s castle covered in roses was entangled in the corpse’s of the Prince’s who had failed. It made reading about the world that the MC’s were in extremely intriguing. I really wanted to know more about the Goyl’s underground city and I like the concept of them having different types of stone for skin.

The biggest downfall of Reckless was the characters. The two brothers, Will and Jacob Reckless, were inspired by Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm (which only took me a hundred pages to figure out). Jacob was a reckless (get it?), anti-hero who was hell bent on saving Will from living life with a skin of stone. Will was the opposite of Jacob, sensible and humble, and in love with a girl named Clara who desperately loved him back. Desperate enough to follow him into the Mirrorworld and stay. And Fox was Jacob’s pragmatic and protective female shape-shifting more-than-friend.
As the reader, I couldn’t develop any emotional connectivity with the characters what-so-ever because they were so flat. I found it hard to relate to the characters and establish any idea of what they looked like because simple descriptions such as hair colour or height were so scarce for the main characters. The bad character development also meant that it was really difficult to see the true motives behind their actions and desires. Why did they love each other? Why was it so important to fight for will? Why did you treat Fox like that? It’s really important to flesh out characters in a story such as this be the plot rested on the characters shoulders and decisions. It was up to Jacob to decide how he would save Will. If he was capable of it, if he loved him that much - but it was extremely difficult to really see this within the one dimensional characters.

I did enjoy Cornelia Funke's Reckless and I just wish that I could have given it 3.5 stars but if I gave it any more, it wouldn’t be accurate. The writing was beautiful, the plot was mediocre and the characters just weren’t there. Reckless lacked that special something that it needed to make it a really great novel. There was just too much going on and not enough explanation to go with it, leaving the reader often confused or lost in the pages. On the other hand, the dark and sombre atmosphere was enticing and the creativity put into the novel was astounding. I would recommend the novel to people who enjoy fantasy and adventure and are willing to look past all the negatives for the beautiful writing and pure cleverness of the Mirrorworld.

Here are some quotes I liked from the novel:

"The night was breathing in the apartment like a dark animal."

"Fox smelled golden revulsion, petrified love."

"Nobody loves only once."

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