Thursday, 21 July 2011

A Christmas Carol

I'd like to thank Mark Tranter for lending me this book and my already-reviewed Owl Service. Thank you for letting me read your copies, I will post them back to you very soon.

As for the book - the original was different to other versions I'd read or seen. Like Treasure Island, it used an older vocabulary. This didn't stop me understand it anything like as much as Treasure Island and after reading a little more I usually managed to figure out what it all meant.
I have to say it was certainly better and easier to understand than I expected. What did surprise me was that there was minor humour in it (although Charles Dickens has nothing on Gonzo the Great, who played him in A Muppet Christmas Carol.)
I've seen A Muppet Christmas Carol, Northern Ballet Theatre's version, a child's version with story CD from Usborne books, and loads of other bits on telly so I knew the story pretty well. The book was a lot shorter than I thought it would be. The characters were exactly what I expected. It's sort of a mix between a ghost story and a fable. The first two ghosts give him leverage but really what changes Scrooge is the last one, seeing himself dead, alone and hated, with people nicking his stuff.
I prefer modern books because they're paced more to my liking. They spend more time advancing the plot and little time describing the surroundings. Sometimes I felt that Dickens spend a little too much time describing rather than actually doing. I think you only need to describe things once whereas he described things in several ways and I didn't really like that aspect of the book.
However, because of the good story and the humour I give it a 76 out of 100.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Treasure Island

An enjoyable book, at least for the first half. After that, with all the Arr-ing and Yo-Ho-Ho-ing I couldn't find out what on earth was going on.
The story as I understood it is this:
The main character, Jim Hawkins, finds a map of the old pirate Captain Flint showing where he buried his treasure. Jim, a Doctor, a cook named Long John Silver, and a crew set off to find the island. Just before they reach their destination, most of the crew mutiny and it is revealed that Long John Silver is the captain of the mutineers.
On the island Jim finds a man called Ben Gunn (who would like more than anything to eat some cheese). Gunn teams up with Jim, the Doctor, the Captain and a few other loyal sailors. Jim goes on a stealth mission and somehow manages to sneak aboard the ship and move it so the pirates can't find it. He is captured by Silver, there is a hunt for the treasure but the good guys beat them to it. Jim and the rest of the good guys find the ship and sail off (taking Ben Gunn with them) leaving the mutineers behind to slowly go mad.

I'm sure it's an excellent story. If only it had more modern language or if it included footnotes to explain the words I didn't understand! I am going to give it a 46 out of 100 for being a good story but difficult language for modern kids to follow.