Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
If Salman Rushdie hadn’t written this, it would probably have been classified as young adult genre fiction and gotten sequestered away as such. Instead, this will probably garner a much more mainstream audience but I’m not entirely sure they’d like it. I wasn’t entirely sure I liked it at first since it’s surreal and absurd. It occurred to me Jasper Fforde fans would probably love it. It has that same sense of weird. Once we got into the imaginary world it picked up for me and I did enjoy it.
Luka is a young boy (12), younger brother to Haroun (18 years older and has his own book out there, Sea of Stories ) and son of sensible Soraya and Rashid, the shah of blah, a professional storyteller. Luka has been waiting for his Big Adventure, much like his brother got. One night he and his father come across captain Aag’s circus and to his horror, Aag is being cruel to his animals so he curses the man, something to the affect of I hope your animals won’t perform and run away. The curse works. As a result Luka gets Dog the dancing Bear and Bear the singing Dog (and this is where I started losing patience with the beginning of the book because we’re forever hearing about Bear the dog and Dog the bear). Unfortunately there is whiplash from the curse. His father falls Asleep, never to awake.
Luka runs across this man in a panama hat that rather looks like his father soon afterwards, thinking it’s his father. However, it’s ‘nobody,’ his father’s Fetch. The creature tells Luka he doesn’t particularly want to become nothing once he’s done absorbing Rashid and suggests a quest. The Fire of Life will restore the boy’s father. Nobodaddy (as the Fetch is called), Luka, Dog and Bear (who can now talk) go into the imaginary world to steal the fire ala Prometheus/Coyote/Raven etc.
Once you get to that point, it starts moving a bit better but not until we meet the Insultana of Ott, that’s about where it picked up for me. It was a bit too absurd and cutesy for me in some areas. Luka quickly finds out it plays just like the computer games his mother hates him playing. He has 1000 lives and has to go up the levels to get to the fire. However, if he dies and/or forgets to save his level he has to start over at the last place he was before the death. Along the way he meets all sorts of creatures. I think about every mythology and folklore is represented here (almost a little too much so in the end). It was a quick entertaining read and I’ll be curious will it go down as genre fiction or will it end up nominated for Bookers and Pulitzers like Rushdie’s other works.
Fairy Tail #12 by Hiro Mashima
It’s the big showdown, Jellal vs Erza. Or should I say Jellal, Erza and Natsu. The others all have very minor roles in this. Erza is barely holding her own against Jellal but she does manage to get an advantage. However, she has one weakness, she has always cared about Jellal and wants to save him from himself, something he can/will use against her.
The Wizard Council unleashes their ultimate weapon, not realizing they have been manipulated. This is what Jellal has always wanted. They are going to be the cause of their own worst fears. However, Natsu has other plans and rescues Erza and together they work to stop the worst from happening. However, it might cost Erza her life.
I liked it up to a point. This one bothered me. Erza’s soft heart (which we have seen little of before this) causes her to need rescuing twice. Granted the rescues make sense in the matter of the plot but she’s always been the toughest of the characters, male or female so that didn’t sit well with me. However, it allows us to see hints of what Natsu is going to be capable of and that is intriguing. It was a decent plot and this wrapped it up. I’m still interested in what comes next but this is just one of those manga where it is more male oriented.