Book Review – Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Title: Battle of the Labyrinth

Author: Rick Riordan

Format: Hardback

Published: 2008

 

Today I bring you yet another Percy Jackson book, and to be honest I’m not quite sure what to say about it.  I know that my review of this book is hindered by the fact of how long it took me to read the book.  Of course the time it took me to read this book was not to the discredit to the book.  I just happened to burn myself out on reading.  As you know I post one of these reviews on a weekly basis but it is not easy to always find the time to read a book a week lets I only review comics and really though I do those often enough I like to present something of substance on occasion.  Thus while I remember the story my thoughts and feelings are rather neutral.

 

The story was a decent read as we follow Pert and Annabeth on Annabeth’s quest to find the Daedalus in the Labyrinth to stop Luke’s army from taking over the camp via the Labyrinth.  It is an interesting story in the sense of the adventure the characters go on as while on this mission Grover is on one of his own to find the dead god Pan for if he doesn’t he’s demoted and forbidden to continue to search. The character some across many creatures and foes and while it was packed with adventure and other side issues and quests my one complaint was my lack of knowledge of various mythological creatures.  While they were explained I felt at times that I should know what the creatures were but they were certainly obscure creatures in my mind which in some ways detracted from the story for me.

 

As you progress through the story you are also presented with the strong idea that someone dear to the readers is going to die per the prophecy of Annabeth’s quest.  Yet things are magically worked where none of the characters die and while it is nice not to mourn the loss of a beloved character I sometimes would prefer if the story delivered on a promise rather than go oh look the indicated death was more figurative than literal.  Which annoys me a little.

 

Over all, the book was decent the revelation of Daedalus was good a bit surprising though it was easily and clearly hinted at.  Then the book sets up for the final in the series and I am curious as to how it will turn out considering in a lot of ways everything has been leading up to this story.  As to when I will get to it, I don’t know.  In the end I think I would give this book a 3 out of 5 pages.

 

Book Review – Labyrinth By A.C.H. Smith

Title: Labyrinth
Author: 
A.C.H. Smith (story by Jim Henson and Dennis Lee, screenplay by Terry Jones)
Illustrator: Brian Froud
Format: 
Hardcover
Written: 
1985
Published: 2014

As a long time fan of the film, I was very happy the Labyrinth novelization was reprinted as hunting used book stores had proved fruitless.  The novelization sticks fairly close to the plot and dialogue of the film with enough changes to make me wonder if it was written based on an early version of the script rather than the completed film.  For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, Labyrinth follows melodramatic fifteen-year-old Sarah who is discontent with her life and takes it out on her baby half-brother Toby by wishing him away.  To her dismay, the Goblin King Jareth from the book she’s reading (also called Labyrinth) does steal her brother away as she wished but refuses to simply give him back.  Instead Sarah has thirteen hours to make her way through the strange, shifting labyrinth populated by goblins and other fantastic creatures to save her brother.

While the film blurs the lines of reality to the point where it’s unclear whether Sarah has really been transported to another world or is simply having an elaborate dream/fantasy sequence, the book feels a tad more grounded in the fantastic.  Jareth’s motivations for kidnapping Toby are a little clearer and more ominous.  We’re given more backstory for Sarah and some hints at Jareth’s past, which make it harder to consider him purely a figure of her imagination.  However this world is densely packed with psychological and life metaphors, which make it a delightful reread (or repeat viewing) to catch all the nuances.

While Sarah starts out a bit whiny and self-centered in the film, she manages to start off even more petulant and cruel in the book.  I’m glad the film lacks her many jibes at Hoggle’s height, which were a bit uncomfortable and on the repetitive side.  But this is a coming of age story and transitioning from childish thinking to a more mature perspective is important to the story.

The book did impress me with how it dealt with the film’s musical numbers, focusing on the spirit and idea of the music rather than lazily reprinting the lyrics, which would have lost impact without the sound to go with them.  I think this approach worked much better for prose, particularly given the pop style of the music.

Labyrinth was YA before YA was cool.  While not crude, it does deal with themes of budding sexuality which make it a more appropriate to a teen audience than young children.  In some ways, the book is a little cleaner than the film, but in others, it’s more blatant about certain themes like desire and infidelity.  So YA but fairly tame on the YA scale.  And it’s certainly clever enough to entertain adult readers.

As a bonus, this hardback includes some previously unreleased sketches by Brian Froud, some notes on the creative origins of the film, and reprints of some of Jim Henson’s notebooks pages with early concept notes on it.  (For a writer, this is a bit like having your baby pictures shared with the general public, so I decided not to read them.  But a treat for dedicated fans and those interested in the creative process.)  Sadly, it’s not illustrated in the normal sense.  The story did not need illustrations but given the distinct visual nature of the film, they would have been fun.

Overall, I give it 5 stars.  There were a few changes that I wish had been done a little differently, but they were matters of preference rather than quality.

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