Amulet (Or) A Case For Why You Shouldn’t Take Children’s Literature Lightly

Fact of life : when a Literary Tiger tells you to get on with your book reviews, you listen. You don’t want to end up being tiger-chow.

Battling book withdrawals when you’ve got very little time is never easy, but I’ve found an elegant solution that, more often than not, keeps me happy for a whole week. Reading a graphic novel. They don’t take long because they’re broken up into issues, they’re highly addictive, and the verbal and visual assault is usually enough to keep your senses happy for a while. Usually.

Amulet has been on my to-read list for a very, very long time. After getting nowhere with The Umbrella Academy and I Kill Giants (I always find that I can’t finish a book every time I put it on my Goodreads currently reading shelf), I was desperate. So I picked it up, with high hopes and a nice comfy cushion, trusting in all the outstanding reviews I had come across on Goodreads.

Boy, was I disappointed. A lot of reviews compared this to Bone, and while I can see similarities here and there, the fact of the matter is: Bone is an all-ages book — everybody who reads it should will like it. That isn’t the case with Amulet. True, it’s got breathtaking illustrations, but that isn’t all a graphic novel is. You need something to back the art.

If I was ten/eleven, I’d love it. It would be my favourite-est book of all time (granted, “all time” is very short when you’re that age), but I struggled through this. What made this series unbearable for me was knowing that there was a time I would have enjoyed and  raved about it for the next few years. I get the feeling that I’m being a little harsh, but I’m upset with the fact that I had to try so hard to love it – to think like a twelve-year old – and it still didn’t do anything for me. You shouldn’t have to try. See, with Bone, it’s effortless. Jeff Smith takes a story we’re sort-of familiar with, and he still manages to make it work. Kazu Kibuishi falls short, just a tiny bit.

And you know how I feel about spoilers? Well, for the first time ever, it won’t matter if I tell you what the book is about, because it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can see where this is going.

Family moves to Grandpa’s (haunted) estate/mansion/tower-y house thing. Goes on a cleaning spree. Girl finds library and mysterious book. Magical things happen, and she ends up with a stone. Monsters kidnap mother; Girl and Brother try to save her. On the way, a lot of self-discovery and various other clichéd fantasy plot points are highlighted – cruel king disappointed in son, son trying to do good, The Resistance, Super-Awesome-Ninja-Fox, ancient city situated in the clouds, all that stuff.

I constantly felt like he was insulting a child’s intelligence. I’ve grown up on a healthy diet of Roald Dahl’s work, and when I re-read them now (yes, I’m sentimental about these things), I can still connect to every word. Every single one. I’m twenty, and Dahl makes me feel like a twenty-year old reading a fun book. Twenty, not twelve. (Kibuishi, are you getting this?)

I’ve read the first three volumes, and I’m not sure I want to continue. A part of me is curious to see if he turns the whole story around, and a part of me is past caring. As beautiful as the illustrations are, I’d rather find something that can give me pretty pictures with a backbone.

Final verdict? Anyone below the age of thirteen will love this. Apart from that, the artwork is the only selling point. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.

 

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7 responses to “Amulet (Or) A Case For Why You Shouldn’t Take Children’s Literature Lightly”

  1. Literary Tiger says :

    Oooooh, graphic novels. I don’t think I have ever picked one up. What are your other recommendations? :)

    • Tanya says :

      Bone, for one. :)
      I’ve been thinking of putting up a post about that, actually. A lot of people seem interested in picking one up, but don’t know where to start. Would it help if I put up a list with a little bit about why they’re a good place to start?

  2. astarteia says :

    Felt the same way about Artemis Fowl — would have loved it if I’d read it when I was ten or eleven. Have you read any Will Eisner comic? His stories are usually very good and very concise, with terrific drawings. I’ve got the New York one and it’s lovely on insomnia nights :)

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