Posts Tagged ‘afterlife’

Due to my fondness for the Artemis Fowl series, I decided to give this book a shot. Unlike Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, this book is a single novel; since there isn’t a large commitment, those of you who are reluctant to invest in a new series can get away with a nice, shorter read.

Story overview:

The setting is modern day Ireland. We begin with a fourteen-year-old girl (Meg Finn) who breaks into an old man’s (Lowrie McCall) home to steal his retirement money. She is accompanied by the troublesome Belch Brennan and his vicious dog. Unfortunately for them, Lowrie meets the robbers with a gun. Unfortunately for Lowrie, Belch’s dog was able to move faster. Meg stops Blech from killing the old man, but this caused the boy to turn his anger on her instead.

The result was the death of both Meg and Belch (and his dog). Belch inadvertently merges with the body of his dog as he is hurled to the fiery pits of Hell. Meg on the other hand, with her final act of goodness, finds that she is inbetween both Heaven and Hell. Because of this she is given the opportunity to go back to earth as a ghost and try to make things right. By doing so she would offset the balance and be allowed to enter the gates of eternal paradise.

Satan has another thing in mind. His subordinate sends the dog-boy version of Belch back to the land of the living to stop Meg from achieving her goal, and thus, send her to Hell. What was the goal to be exact? To help Lowrie (the old man she tried to rob, but ended up saving) accomplish his Bucket List before his heart gives out. With odds against her, Meg does all she can to fulfill a dying man’s dream, and Belch does all he can to stop her.

My thoughts:

Eoin Colfer is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. His use of wit, quality of writing, and dynamic range of characters are refreshing and a joy to read. I love the subtleties and character conversations in The Wish List. It’s a satisfying story with a satisfying ending. Well worth a read.

Things to consider:

The first thing I want to make clear here is that this is a work of fiction. The description of Heaven and Hell (and how one gets there) is not meant to be taken theologically. Every author runs the risk of stepping on toes when writing on such a topic, but Colfer gets by with this because he lightens the tone. The story is not meant to be taken literally, but figuratively. With this in mind, as a parent, be sure to explain this to your children; just in case they don’t understand the difference. There are a few disturbing scenes that may bother younger children, but overall a fairly clean tale. No sexual content, extensive foul language, or excess of violence. Great for preteens plus, and equally targeted to both girls and boys.

Opportunities for discussion:

This was a hard one for me because I’ve gone back and forth with trying to decided if I should (1) approach the issues Christians will have, or (2) address the true meaning behind the story. So I will briefly attempt to do both. First, this story makes it sound like a person is measured by their deeds, good and bad, and is then sent to Heaven or Hell based on which they did more of. In a theological sense, we know that even the best of deeds is not good enough. It would be like arguing that $100 for a Lamborghini Reventon is better than $0.50. Both fall far short of the $1,600,000 price tag. As a believer, the only way we can afford the cost of an eternal paradise is to accept it as a free gift. Anything else would only be an insult to the giver.

Secondly, there’s a powerful message of redemption in the story. Even though one’s passage to the “pearly gates” is not defined by deeds, we are called to be people of a certain sort. That is, people who seek to do good rather than wickedness. Both Meg Finn and Lowrie McCall discovered this when finalizing the unsolved areas of their lives. One of the primary being that vengeance does not lead to life; forgiveness does. In a biblical sense, we are told that for us to acquire forgiveness from the Father we must also extend it to our fellow man. Be sure to talk to your kids about these things after they read the story. We don’t want them to miss out on the great messages behind the text.

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InkdeathIn the first book, Inkheart, we had twelve-year-old Meggie Folchart learn about her father’s amazing ability to read things out of books. Unfortunately one of these things was the evil Capricorn who captures her father in an attempt to force him to do his will. This story takes place entirely in the “real world.”

Next we had Inkspell, where Farid convinced Meggie to read them into the book “Inkheart” so that he could see Dustfinger again. Joining them shortly after is Mo and Teresa, who get there by means of Orpheus. They learn about The Adderhead and Mo is forced to make him immortal. This story takes place mostly in the “Inkworld.”

Now we have the conclusion to the Inkheart Trilogy. This tale takes place mostly in the “Inkworld,” but we jump back and forth to the “real world” to see what’s happening to Elinor and Darius.

Story overview:

Fenoglio may have stopped writing, but Orpheus has taken over where Fenoglio left off. However, the things Orpheus creates are less than ideal. The Folchart’s (Meggie, Mortimer & Teresa) are now living with the Black Prince and his gang of robbers, with Mo fulfilling the role of the Bluejay as the prince’s right-hand man. Farid on the other hand is working with Orpheus until the man can bring Dustfinger back from the dead.

Orpheus tricks Mo to call on The White Women and Mo finds himself making a deal with Death (who happens to be the same Death in all worlds) to kill The Adderhead whom he had made immortal. The price of failure is the death of him, his daughter, and Dustfinger whom was allowed to return to help with the task.

The Adderhead’s daughter, Violante helps Mo in an attempt to kill her tyrannical father. Things don’t work out as planned and it comes down to Fenoglio’s words verses Orpheus’s as they battle against each other from opposite sides of the kingdom.

My thoughts:

Having liked Inkheart, and even more so Inkspell, I was very disappointed with this one. I think the story is OK, it is just extremely drawn out in long and boring scenes, tons of back story, and the reader is in and out of so many character heads that it is bound to make our own head spin. It wasn’t until Chapter 25 that I actually started to get into the story, and then a few chapters later it started to lose me again. Cornelia did to Inkdeath what Paolini did to Brisingr, however I was less bored with Brisingr. That said, I still recommend reading it if you have started the series. It had a satisfying ending and filled in most of the loose ends. Keep in mind that some of my distastes may be coming more from the author in me than the reader in me.

Things to consider:

This story is quite a bit on the darker side than the other two. I would age rate this a little higher than the others (making it Teens instead of Tweens,) partly because of the presence of sexual references (such as Orpheus and his maids,) but mostly because I think it would bore a younger audience. Among the typical cursing from the other books, there’s a lot more death; some of them in disturbing scenes where children are brutally killed.

Opportunities for discussion:

Of course the theme of playing God and the problems therein still stands from the other books, but I also came away with a strong sense of: life is pain. It can seem a little depressing at times, but keep in mind that this is a good time to talk to your teen about pain and life. In the story, there’s a great feeling that in death there is great peace. Life is pain, to die is gain. A Bible verse comes to mind: Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” This is a good time to talk to your kids about the afterlife, and what you believe is the right path. Also talk to them about life on earth; how they are living in a fallen world. Tell them that there will be times of joy and times of sorrow, and that it is our mission to work and live the life we’ve been given as best we can. However, our longings are not in vein, as we were made for something better and will one day be home. Another discussion point could be about identify, and that we are who we are regardless of what other’s make of us or try to make us into.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 1)
2) Inkspell (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 2)