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Labyrinth Paperback – June, 1986
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Comparison of the UK edition to the US edition:
It has 183 pages not 128 like it lists on this page. All of the other book information is correct. It has the same 8 movie photo pages as the U.S. edition of the book by Owl books, and it is not missing any text. It has different cover art, and I'll attempt to attach the picture of the book cover to this review.
Review of the book itself:
It is a wonderful novelization that has the extra information in it that the movie makes you wonder about. In my opinion, this novel ends the way the movie should have. Without giving the end away, there is no little girl's bedroom party with streamers and puppets. Sarah is a young woman, not a little girl, and this novel lets her become that young woman. Her reactions to Jareth are much more poignant, especially in the ballroom and at the end of the book. The ending stays with you.
The author's word choice and writing style are very engaging. The emotions and thought processes of the characters are explained as third person omniscient and hide nothing from the reader.
The character Sarah isn't nearly as whiny and tantrumy in the book as the character comes across in the film. Sarah annoyed me a bit in the movie because her character seemed so spoiled and childish for her age, but I suppose that's how the character was scripted. (I am not faulting Jennifer Connelly's performance. She did a lovely job and made her puppet friends seem absolutely real.) However, the novel reveals her motivations for why she reacts the way she does (like when she chooses to go down instead of up with the helping hands, when going up seemed the better choice), and that she actually is clever, not just lucky or flippantly willful. It's also explained in her background why she has such a dramatically bratty side, beyond just being a teen. She was apparently not a perfect, nice girl. Sarah not being nice was barely hinted at in the movie. She was only mean to her brother for a few moments before she suddenly wishes him away to the goblins on a whim of high fantasy mixed with a Cinderella-complex. Poor Toby! Obviously, she's not the first teen to wish away a younger sibling, but she had to deal with the consequences.
The novel fills out her character by showing she takes some pleasure in being snarky--especially in the way her mom's boyfriend talks behind the back of other people. She is more than a bit over-controlling of 'her' world, and she has a past of being a bully. So, she's wrestling with her own guilt-tinged past and selfishness as she saves her brother, and that is what redeems her--not just refusing Jareth's temptations. However, it is her little penchant for cruelty mixed with her youthful innocence (or lack of self-awareness) that probably attracted Jareth to her (or made him exist as a projection of her Animus--"Within You") as he, himself, is clearly not a nice man and rather spoiled. Jareth is, well, Jareth, but you get to understand why he is the way he is and have empathy for him. I understand both characters better now and enjoy the movie even more because of it. Smith seamlessly wove together the backgrounds from the scripts with his own writing finesse.
Overall, wistful is the best word I would use to describe this book. That's exactly how this book made me feel. I absolutely do not want the story to be over, and that's the highest compliment I can give to any book.
Henson's movie (and Smith's book) represent one of my very favorite female growing up stories. Having first watched the movie as a child (it came out when I was 10) and reading the novel as an adult, I reflect that the film and novelization are an amazingly accurate depiction, symbolically speaking, of how a teen girl lets go of childhood, discovers herself as a young woman, and realizes that men are not Ken dolls or storybook princes. (Bowie was brilliant!)
Like the title says - a must have for Labyrinth geeks ;)
But certainly not worth $600.00.
I just replaced my copy I lost YEARS ago. I owned it back in the 1980's and I thought paying $45.00 back in October was a lot. It looks like I bought the last reasonably priced copy of a rather small papaerback novel. The price has skyrocketed.
No matter how much I adore this book and movie, price gougers SUCK.