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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