Demon Slayers and Poetry: A Book Chat
September 28, 2013
Hello, fellow judges! You may have noticed that it’s Saturday. And if you’re really tuned in, you may know that Saturdays are the day that I post a book review. Yep. Just like clockwork. One Saturday=one I’ll Be the Judge book review from Tova.
If you’re really, really tuned in, you may have also noticed that this isn’t sounding very much like a book review. Hmm.
The truth is that this week has been more hectic than a rhinoceros wedding party doing the Cupid Shuffle in a china shop, and amid the homework, tennis, musical rehearsal, etc., I didn’t get a chance to review a book. I was going to just somehow rush one out this morning, but I thought it might be more fun if I did a Book Chat, and chatted about some book-related thoughts that may pop into my mind.
Currently, I’m about half way through The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. For those who don’t know, it’s about teens who are Shadowhunters, people with partial angel blood who hunt demons that come from other realms to cause trouble on earth. I had been planning to read the book when the movie came out, since I, like so many bibliophiles, believe strongly in reading the book first, but I didn’t get a chance (see above rhinoceros simile); and one weekend I decided to go ahead and see the movie anyway. I enjoyed the movie, but it was sort of confusing, and I got the sense that it was squeezing a whole lot of book into its comparably short runtime. So I knew I had to read the book and find out what I was missing.
My suspicions were confirmed when I got the book and saw that it’s almost 500 pages long. And sure enough, I’m following the story a lot more clearly. I don’t think the movie even mentioned that Alec and Isabelle were siblings! My grandfather and I thought they were dating! Silliness. But anyhow, I’m really enjoying the book. All of the allusions to Christian themes make me a little nervous that it will turn uncomfortably preachy or heavy-handed, but it hasn’t so far. Occasionally it threatens to sound a tinge amateur for some reason, but overall, it’s well-written, gripping, and just fun. And um, Jace. Sign me up. He’s just as alluring in the book as he was on the screen. I haven’t fully formed opinions about the quality of the movie adaption yet, except that I think all the actors did at least a decent job portraying their characters.
Completely shifting gears, the other bookish topic I had on my mind lately is novels written in verse. This is probably because I recently read a recommendation of a verse novel called The Weight of Water, by Sarah Crossnan, about a girl who immigrates with her mother from Poland to England. I’ve dabbled a lot in writing poetry, so I’m not one of those people who are automatically turned off by it. But I think verse novels have to be different from prose novels in more ways than the format. I think if you’re going to write a novel entirely in poetry, it will have to be more condensed than a prose one, because poetry doesn’t lend itself very well to mundanity. A prose novel will have a lot of minor content—the protagonist going to the grocery store or chatting with a friend, just going through their schedules. If you try to include these moments in a verse novel, you’ll have pages that are broken into weird line breaks for no clear reason, with either no musicality at all or a lot of forced bravado and floweriness. Poetry cuts to the heart of things; in a verse novel, it will be only the strong emotions that count. Or at least, that’s the way I see it. I’m a great authority, seeing as how it’s been years since I read a novel in verse. Hopefully I can change that soon, with The Weight of Water! Or… eventually.
Thoughts on either City of Bones or novels in verse? And should I do more book chats in the future, either instead of reviews certain weeks or in addition to them? Talk to me in the comments.