Monday, August 10, 2015

Adventures And Nightmares

I finished a book right before vacation that had been in my TBR pile for ages.  I finally purchased a beautiful hard back version of it (for cheap at the used bookstore woohoo) and then it sat on my shelf.  It was a completely different read then I thought it would be.  The book is Abarat by Clive Barker.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
As with most of the books I have been reading lately this book is a bit convoluted so I will do my best.  The book centers around Candy Quackenbush (I love that name!) a teenage girl who is feeling stuck in her tiny Midwestern town of Chickentown.  Her home life, school life and what passes for a social life are all difficult, dull and pointless.  All of this changes when she runs into a strange creature by the name of John Mischief.  John has 7 brothers who are all represented by heads on antlers above his head.  The John's are being perused by a creature named Mendelson Shape who is trying to prevent John from completing his mission.  Candy assists John and the result is a sea rolling over the plains and sweeping everybody away to Abarat.  Abarat is a land made up of islands that are all in a fixed hour of the clock..for example, the island of Yebba Dim Day (an island in the shape of a giant head) it is always 8:00pm.  There are 24 large islands and multiple tiny islands making up this land.  Candy gets seperated from her companions and embarks on what can only be described as a cross between a nightmare and a dream of an adventure.  We meet Christopher Carrion, a man (I guess we can call him a man) who is cruel and scary and wants to plunge the world into darkness.  He rules the island of Gorgossium, which is always fixed at the midnight hour and controls some very hideous creatures.  He plans to unlock a vault deep in the ocean and release a hoard of pure evil on the land.  We also meet a fellow by the name of Rojo Pixler who wants to get rid of all the magic and replace it with technology and his way of doing things.  Candy is chased through all the islands, learning bits and pieces of the history and workings of this new land.  Oddly enough Candy feels completely at home in this strange place that would through most people off their game.  Candy discovers that there is a good chance that she has been to Abarat at some point before, even if she can't remember it.  We end the book with nothing really resolved other then Candy's resolve to stay in Abarat and do what she can to protect it.
To me this book is mostly about imagery, the story is very very secondary to the visuals and world in this book.  The book is full of insane (and very) cool illustrations done in oils in a style that is like a creepy Van Gogh.  I found the world to be pretty cool, with all kinds of impossible characters, buildings and landscapes and the illustrations did a good job in keeping me in the world.  Unfortunatly the story did not seem very developed and seemed to hop all over the place.  Usually I really enjoy the crazy insane worlds, but this one seemed a bit...scattered for my taste.  The characters were ok, with John Mischief being my favorite.  I'm not sure why this book didn't do it for me.  I think it was the story, which seemed to try and go somewhere and say something...but it just didn't get anywhere.  I also was a bit hesitant to call this a book for anybody under the age of 14 or so 'cause the imagery and cruelty was pretty pronounced.  I know a lot of people love this book, and that is awesome and I hope others read it and love it...but I am not one of them.  I give this book 6 out of 10 and recommend it to anybody who loves some great imagery with a bit of a dark twist.

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