In February, I read This is the Way the World Ends, and I was pretty sure that it was going to be my book of the year. It might have seemed early to make such a sweeping statement, but I was pretty sure. I just had a feeling that it would be an extremely difficult book to top, and although I figured I would read some good books in the following months, I didn’t think that any of them would be better. As it turns out, I was wrong, because I just finished The Book of Lost Things, and I think it is definitely my book of the year, and it may even be a contender for my favourite book ever status, a place which has been occupied by The Sparrow for many years.
This is a book about a boy who loses his mother to cancer in the tumultuous world of wartime Britain, and is forced to cope with having an entirely new life thrust upon him. He ends up retreating into a world of books and fantasy, and eventually he is actually transported into a parallel world. Sort of like The Chronicles of Narnia, except that this book is waaaaaaaay creepier.
The foundation of the story is fairytales (and there’s a great index/discussion at the end of the copy I read in which the author talks about the history of the fairytales in the book). But the stories in this book are…twisted. I don’t really want to get into details, because I want you to read this book, and I do not want to ruin it for you, but let’s just say that it takes darkness to a whole new, awesome level.
Our hero navigates the peculiar world into which he has fallen, looking for a way back home, and he grows up along the way. Fundamentally, this book is about the transition into adulthood, and the things we struggle with as we age and grow. We ride along with our character as he makes mistakes, comes to realizations, and copes with his demons.
The Book of Lost Things is, in short, totally amazing. The language is clear and crisp, with a hint of that fairytale style without seeming precious. It is definitely written for adults, but I can see how older teens would get a lot out of it. I certainly would have if I had read it at 15 or 16. So stop reading what I have to say about it, and go get a copy at your local independent booksellers (or the library).
The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly. Published 2006, 470 pages. Fiction.