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95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2010
Being one of the few people left in the world who has not yet read anything by Cornelia Funke, I'm going to have to start this review by simply saying "Wow! - and wow again!" I can only imagine what I've been missing. From beginning to end, Reckless is an absolutely wonderful read and I am feeling kind of giddy at the prospect of reading, not only the future books in this series, but everything else this talented storyteller has written.

Reckless is the story of Jacob Reckless, his brother Will and a fairy tale land that exists beyond a mirror in their missing father's study. Having discovered the world when he was quite young, Jacob has been traveling there for years, losing himself in the dangers and adventures to be had there. Always careful to hide the truth about his double life, he's now cursing himself for a moment of recklessness that enabled Will to follow him into the Mirrorworld. There, Will is clawed and cursed and is now slowly turning to stone. Unless Jacob can find a way to break the curse - and soon - Will will become a gargoyle (Goyl). Complicating matters is that fact that Will is turning, not to some ordinary stone, but to jade. And there is - wouldn't you know it? - a legend about a Jade Goyl and the power such a being will wield. This makes Will a person of interest, so to speak, to some unsavory characters.

In Reckless, Cornelia Funke has created a complex world woven from myths and legends, many of which will be familiar to lovers of fairy tales and to those who have read the collected stories of the Brothers Grimm. The arcing story, however, is her own. She has populated her well-imagined world with interesting characters and has given them an engrossing plot. There is danger and suspense, mystery, love and hate, jealousy, bravery, sacrifice and revenge. Funke never once talks down to her readers and doesn't make the mistake of over-describing the Mirrorworld or the many beings found there. I appreciate that she provides me with enough material to point me in the right direction and then allows my own imagination to fill in the details. In addition, her pacing is excellent and the story builds beautifully. I simply could not set the book aside until I'd finished it. And now I want to read it all again, taking my time to savor all the delicious little things Funke gave us that make the world so real and the characters so believable.

One of my favorite aspects of Reckless was the slow reveal of Jacob's past in the Mirrorworld. I find myself very intrigued by Jacob and am confident that, in future books (Funke is planning 2 or 3 more), we will learn a lot more about him, his past and his relationships with other characters. He has some nicely murky bits, some shades of grey - characteristics I tend to appreciate in protagonists. I'm also really looking forward to learning more about Fox, whose past is so entwined with his.

Reckless is a dark story with blood, death and some disturbing images. (For example, Sleeping Beauty, never awoken by her prince, still lies in her tower, faded and, according to Jacob, dead. The thorns have grown thick around the tower and in them hang the corpses of those who were either trying to rescue her or to cash in on the value of her bed.) I mention this only because I know that a lot of young children are big fans of Funke's earlier books. Since I haven't read those books, I don't know how the violence level compares, but parents might want to read Reckless before giving it to children under the suggested age of 10. (If your child made it all the way through the Harry Potter series, I don't think Reckless will prove too disturbing for them.)

I wouldn't want to live in the Mirrorworld, nor would it be a safe place to linger for too long. But I am definitely looking forward to visiting it again in the books to come.

Very highly recommended.

Heads up to Kindle readers: I part read/part listened to this book on Kindle. The first page of each chapter contains artwork along with text. That text is TINY on the Kindle (and I mean TINY) and doesn't change when you adjust the font size. In addition, when you switch to text-to-speech, Kindle apparently 'reads' those same pages as pictures because the reader skips right over them. Because there are a lot of chapters in this book, this quickly became pretty annoying. After seeing the hardcover edition of the book, I felt the black and white illustrations added a very nice element. For that reason, and to address the Kindle problem, I ordered a hardcover for my re-read and to place in my collection.

ETA: Currently, Reckless doesn't seem to be available on Kindle (I pre-ordered mine some time ago and received it in the wee hours of the morning on release day just as expected). Perhaps Amazon is aware of the problem and has temporarily pulled the Kindle version while they address it?
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2010
Jacob Reckless hasn't felt at home in our world for twelve years. His haven in found beyond the mirror in his father's study; where people live in little villages and cottages, monsters are common talk amongst the town-folk, stone men rule and push for power, fairies are dark and deceptive, and the Empress of Austry is a treasure-hunter. Jacob himself is a treasure-hunter, often working for Her Majesty to find her desires - a wishing table, a glass slipper, a golden ball. Jacob lives here most of the time, lying to his brother that he is going on vacation, a business trip, a trip to see a friend in need. He loves his brother, but too much pain lies outside of the mirror, where both of his parents are dead and his life is falling apart. And all is well on this side of the mirror. It is dangerous, yes, but Jacob has nothing to lose... Or so he thinks. Because of a simple mistake, Jacob's brother Will has followed him over. And what's worse is Will has been clawed by a stone man, a Goyl, and now Will's skin is slowly turning to stone. Jacob must do everything he can before his kind and gentle brother turns completely into a stone man, heart and all.

I've loved Cornelia Funke's books ever since I read Inkheart "that fateful day" a few years ago. Since then, I've read everything of hers I can get my hands on. Almost every book has been absolutely incredible; only one has been a disappointment (Dragon Rider). I preordered Reckless six months ago, hoping it would be another classic like the Inkbooks...

In a way it was wonderful, and in a way it was not. I'll list the bad first.
First thing: I didn't love the translation. I wish wish wish Anthea Bell had translated this one (she translated the Inkbooks), but it was Oliver Latsch. I like his stuff, but sometimes his wording is funny and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Second thing: Cornelia's books may be labled as "children's books", but don't believe it. I can't imagine letting my child read this book. I think a good age to start at is 15. For one this is a very dark story (much of it is derived from the Grimm's fairytales); it also has some sensual scenes invovling men and the fairies they have fallen in love with. The fairies, as stated before, are dark and deceptive, but also very seductive. Jacob and the king of the Goyl love two different fairies, both of whom aren't always faithful.

And then comes the good...
Cornelia is a master at weaving a great story, from start to finish. She draws power from folklore and her favorite stories, but she is also incredibly original. Reckless was just so. While it could have been a terrible retelling of Grimm's fairytales (what it was built on and after), it was a wonderful example of taking from the classics without copying them. Another very good aspect of Reckless is that Cornelia is not afraid to give her characters pain. It is what real stories are made of, and this author definitely knows how to toy with her reader's emotions for the characters by making them endure hardship. This is much of what kept me into the book the whole time. Sacrifice and hardship make books so much more real.

So, in all, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next one (she plans on writing at least two more books about Jacob Reckless and his world beyond the mirror). And while this is a novel worth reading (although not a classic in my opinion), it is not for everyone, especially not for children.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2011
OK, when I got the free edition for Kindle I didn't realize I was only getting part of the book. There is no clue as to when the entire book may be purchased and that is disappointing. The book lets you become involved with the story right away. There is no long drawn out beginning that makes you want to put the book down. I was so excited to see what would happen next! Suddenly I clicked the arrow to turn the page eating this story like it was the last meal ... when I got this cute note that says: coming September 14, 2010.
Well, September 14th has come and gone so how do I find out when the full book will be on kindle? I give it 5 stars and it's worth every one of them. I noticed one review said this wasn't her best work. If this isn't her best then I can't wait to read more of her books that's for sure!!!
I did get the entire version, and WOW WOW WOW, What I can say is this is fantastic. I enjoyed the whole thing. What I want now is to read the books that will follow this story but as of yet I haven't found any. I am certain that there will be more due to the way this book was left. So, if anyone knows what the next book is titled, please mention it here okay?
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2010
When I started this book, I knew absolutely nothing about it, except that it was by Cornelia Funke. Mine is actually a signed copy! Much like with Inkheart, you can since Cornelia's true love of the written world, although here the character escapes into the world populated by fairy tale characters rather than bringing book characters into the real world. Also much like Inkheart, the book is very dark. None of the characters come through as shining examples of humanity; no one is perfect.

The story is interesting, and, I suspect, not over. The ending felt a bit abrupt, so I rather hope there is more to come. If it ends as is, I warn that it is not an entirely happy ending. The fairy tale world is populated with terrifying creatures from fairy tales, more of the original Grimm brothers' sort than Disney's sweet, happy kinds. This book, unlike her others, is not for children or, at least, it has not been written with them in mind. Although I believe it is being marketed to schools anyway, this book seems in a lot of ways best for adults or old teens.

The main weakness of the book for me lay in some of the construction. Funke chose to use an omniscient third person narrative. Although the character most closely followed is Jacob, other characters have chapters from what is essentially their perspective. There are frequent interjections in italics, which represent the thoughts of a certain character. Since she shows the thoughts of many of the characters at various points, she has to clarify which character is meant by including the name of the character in question each time. This means that every couple of pages there will be a thought like this one: "Impatience, Jacob. Say it as it is. After all, it's one of your most prominent character traits." The repetition of the name in the thoughts becomes extremely obnoxious. Yes, one occasionally throws one's name into a self-admonition, but not anywhere near this often. This could have been better constructed.

Still recommended overall despite a few flaws. Cornelia Funke's books are well-worth the time to read them.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2010
German author Cornelia Funke has quite the resume: The bestselling Inkheart trilogy (Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath), The Thief Lord, and two movies based on her books, just for starters. Her newest novel, Reckless, the first in a series, was released mid-2010.
When he was younger, Jacob Reckless discovered a portal in his father's office. Over the next ten years he spent more and more time in the mirror world and less in the real world. One day, his younger brother Will follows him through the mirror and is fatally wounded. (Fatally, in this case, refers to turning into a stone monster.) Even though he has seen little of his brother over the past few years, Jacob is determines to reverse the damage and send Will and his girlfriend, Clara, back through the mirror.
Put plainly: Funke's latest novel shines. The mirror world is dark and rich. The three "normal" characters are realistic and driven. Funke gives us just enough description to flesh out her world, leaving the rest of the imagining to us. The plot parallels Jacob's one-track mind, pushing relentlessly toward the end. Instead of leaving us worn out or bored, the urgency pushes us through the 300+ page book at, well, reckless speeds.

*Amazing world building
*Believable, honest characters
*Eloquent story telling
*Intriguing pictures that add to the story

*Some implied sex (mentioned so that young readers would probably not catch it)
*Some mild language
*Some violence. Main kill often and characters nearly die.
*Some dishonest dealings.
*Could be a bit dark or intense for young readers.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2011
I expected to like this book, as I think Cornelia Funke is an excellent writer. I think I was also expecting something of the caliber of 'Inkheart', which this frankly isn't. In fact, I did something with 'Reckless' that I almost never do: gave up half way through. I just couldn't engage witht he story on any level, which is a shame because the presmise and themes are interesting (alternate world accessed through a mirror, troubled sibling relationships, ticking bomb in the form of a curse)but somehow they never become any more than that. The characters and their struggles were wispy, half-drawn, just too thin to care about. Likewise the 'love story', which left me completely cold, (and which, incidentally, plays a far smaller role in the story than the blurb and taglines suggest.)

I think part of the problem is that the characters are actually adults, not girls and boys as the back cover suggests. This makes them hard for the intended audience to relate to, but the problem is bigger than that. Because they are adults, the story picks up long after the main character has discovered the world beyond the mirror. This is a huge mistake, as a major element of successful books in this genre is escapism and wish-fulfillment for the reader. Here, though, the reader loses out on the excitement and adventure of discovering the new world with the main character. Likewise the romance, and even the mystery about the brothers' missing father: we hear about all of it, but don't experience any of it, so it's hard to care. Classic case of show, don't tell.

I think the other issue is that the publishers are clearly trying to market this book as a teen supernatural romance, which, quite bluntly, it isn't. And that's unfortunate - it might generate a few sales, but I very much doubt that young readers will be coming back for more. That's a shame, as they'll miss out on Funke's other, better books.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2010
Welcome to a world inhabited by all of the characters, creatures, and magical elements from the celebrated Grimm's Fairy Tales. Don't, however, expect a happy ending.

Jacob and Will Reckless's father disappeared seemingly overnight, and all that was left behind in his study were various books, artifacts, and a mysterious mirror that bears the inscription: the mirror will open only for he who cannot see himself. By covering his face with his hand, Jacob Reckless ventured forth into a fantastical mirror world where new adventures awaited. Jacob spent his time in this new world conquering strange beasts, recovering magical items, and trying to bury the pain of a lost father, a dead mother, and a younger brother, Will, that trusted Jacob with his life. After years of dividing his time between the two worlds, Jacob decided to bring Will through the mirror. Once was all it took for the dark magic to take hold.

The mirror world was at war between Goyls and their human counterparts, and the Goyl unwittingly attacked Will on his first visit. Long after the scars healed, Will discovered a startling side effect: he was growing Goyl skin --- a bright green Jade stone. Seeing no way to help him in the real world, Jacob brings Will back through the mirror to try and reverse the effects and return Will's skin back to its original state. But they are not alone. Will manages to convince his girlfriend, Clara, to accompany them on their journey.

As Jacob searches for a cure for Will, someone else is searching for Will himself. Kami'en, the Goyl King, is deeply interested in capturing Will's jade skin. A celebrated Goyl myth tells of a Goyl with jade skin that provides invincibility to the king he serves. As the Goyl continue to rage on in war with the rest of the mirror world, invincibility is exactly what Kami'en needs to gain ultimate control. He also has a fierce ally on his side: the Dark Fairy. The Dark Fairy is responsible for creating Will, and she alone can reverse the curse and restore Will. Confronting the Dark Fairy, though, is suicide, and Jacob has no other alternative if he hopes to save his brother.

As Jacob, Will, and Clara race against time, the odds are stacked against them. Unicorns with a bloodthirsty streak, monsters with scissor hands, trees that attack, and other dangerous creatures surround them at every corner. Dispel any hope of a Disney magical twist to this story. The ending is going to be Grimm.

If you've read any of Cornelia Funke's books, you'll love RECKLESS. Funke has the ability to create worlds out of thin air that are believable and enchanting. Jacob and Will Reckless are heroes that exhibit noble characteristics of courage, bravery, and fearlessness. Readers may be expecting a happy-go-lucky take on the fairy tale genre, but Funke quickly sets her own dark tone. Some of the best moments in the book are when she incorporates parts of Grimm's Fairy tales and adds her own personal twist to classic stories. The main reason that RECKLESS is so successful, though, is that Funke draws the reader in with nothing more than good storytelling and unforgettable characters.

--- Reviewed by Benjamin Boche
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2010
Yes, I do know this book was written for 7th- to 10th-graders, and I am nearly 44. However, the fact that it was written for younger readers shouldn't mean it's allowed to be poorly written as well. I've been an avid reader of fantasies for all ages ever since I was old enough to choose my own books at the library, so I feel I know at least a little about what clicks and what doesn't. "Reckless," in my opinion, doesn't.

I'm going to try very hard not to include any spoilers, so I won't be able to go into great detail - just overall generalities.

By far, the biggest problem I have with this book is that the character-building leaves a great deal to be desired. Even the main characters' back stories are so thin that you really don't have any basis for like/dislike/empathy/sympathy, etc. I felt very much as though I had begun a trilogy by reading the second book instead of the first -- as if I had skipped the book in which the characters were introduced in-depth, where the reader learns who they are, where they come from (in more senses than just the physical), and what their dreams and goals are. Emotions were mentioned seemingly in passing, with no real depth of feeling. Personal interactions were shallow, with little or no internal dialog, and the conversations between characters always felt a bit hostile and stilted. To sum up, even having JUST finished the book, I cared so little about what happened to them that I don't think I can accurately rattle off the names of even the main characters, much less the "supporting cast." Very sad.

Another problem I had was the lack of solid descriptions. Unlike Funke's Inkworld, very few of the Mirrorworld's inhabitants were described in such detail that the imagination can come up with a solid mental image. Some might say that imagination should play a part in building these mental images. I would argue that if a writer is really trying to draw you into a story, he or she should try to make you "see" what he or she "saw" when the book was being written. Even the "human" characters weren't described in enough detail to give the reader a clear mental image. Hugely disappointing for those who like to escape into their books.

There were a great deal of instances where the characters got themselves into trouble they shouldn't have gotten out of so easily. Rescues were too easy, too soon and too hard to believe. How can you wholeheartedly root for someone who always seems to land on his feet, and so quickly, too?

Maybe kids in grades 7-10 won't/don't notice these kinds of problems. Maybe this series will make Funke a lot of money. But I won't be spending any more on the upcoming Mirrorworld books. The first one was too much of a disappointment.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2010
Good story.. but not great. I think it would have been stronger for me if there I could have felt more of a connection with the main character, Jacob, sooner in the story. It felt like it took half the book before you could really start to care about anyone in the story. That being said, I did like the book.. it had a bit of a Narnia vibe for me. I loved how all the classic fairy tales were woven throughout the main story. I will read the next books in the series once they are released, because even though it took longer then I would have liked to connect with the characters, I did eventually fall for the distant and Self-deprecating Jacob and look forward to joining him on his next adventure.. maybe to find his dad??
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2010
For years, Jacob Reckless has enjoyed the Mirrorworld's secrets and treasures...But
Not anymore. His younger brother has followed him and he got "sick".
Now dark magic will turn the boy to beast, break the heart of the girl he loves, and destroy everything Jacob holds most dear. . . .
Unless Jacob can find a way to stop it. Maybe he can even find a cure. Maybe he can save his brother. Maybe he can find his father. His father has been lost for years. Nobody knows what happened to him.

First, I thought this book is just a new version of a mirror world, a fantasy world behind a mirror. It was. But it was also a different kind of world. It tells a story of two brothers (much like the story of My brother, Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren) and how they have adventures in the fantasy world. The battle between good and evil is always present. I didn't like some of the solutions made in this storyline but overall, it was a good story. Some 'escapes' of difficult situations seemed to be 'too dull' to be in this book. However, the plot went on and the characters were reliable.
I must say that the first chapters might make it difficult for some younger readers because you have to read a few chapters before you get the hang of what's going on and what kind of world you have entered.

I can't wait to read the next book.
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