Book Review: Haroun and the Sea of Stories

“He knew what he knew: that the real world was full of magic, so magical worlds could be real.” ~Haroun and the Sea of Stories

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Author: Salman Rushdie

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Haroun sets out on an adventure to restore the poisoned source of the sea of stories. On the way, he encounters many foes, all intent on draining the sea of all its storytelling powers.

My Opinion: Haroun and the Sea of Stories is actually a fairly young old book (first published in 1990, see what I mean?), and no one seems to have heard of it despite there being a play based off of the book. It’s really an underrated book and I gave it four stars for the lyrical writing, humorous characters, and diversity.

I’ll admit, I’m laughing a bit as I write this because so many adults have read and reviewed this book saying “this is so deep!” and seem shocked that a children’s story could have so much depth. Well, this book is actually a children’s story for adults. But that’s not to say that children won’t enjoy it as well, or that children’s books aren’t incredibly deep.

This book has a very similar word play style that The Phantom Tollbooth has, so there’s most certainly an appeal to children overall. Also one of the characters is named Butt. I kid you not. I’m in my mid 20s and I giggled every time I read that name. The story is fantastical and includes a magical bird, an evil plot, and a genie. This book has a wide appeal. Anyone who’s young or young at heart (or wants to be) will find something to love in this.

That being said, this is a children’s story for adults. There’s just some things in this book that only adults would really get. But at the same time I strongly feel that there are some things that only children could get out of this book. It’s a book that grows with you, enjoyed when read multiple times throughout life.

The diversity in this is good, it’s written in, and it’s in the names as well. The author includes his culture and heritage in the story which is really wonderful to see. Each name was chosen for a very specific reason and I really enjoyed reading about the names in the back of the book. It added yet another element of depth to the story.

The plot well, here’s where I come to a bit of a conundrum. I loved the plot. The child was the hero, trying to save his hero. I love that message, and I felt like the plot moved along at a good pace and that what needed to be explained was explained well. But something seemed lacking. Certain parts felt a bit rushed, or shallow. That’s why I didn’t feel like could give the book a full five stars, those missing bits and pieces.

TL;DR: This is a fun and thoughtful book, the sort that you can just fold yourself into. The humor is spot on, the characters are interesting, and the writing style is lyrical. It’s a quick but lovely read and despite me feeling like something was missing over all, this book is well worth the read which I would recommend to anyone.

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