This week, let's take a look at a story whose movie is known better than its book (or it is in the circles I run in, at least) - Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones.
This is not a fast-paced book, nor is it "action-packed," but the pace is steady and the world is engaging. It feels rather more like the world was built to suit the characters than the characters were inserted to show off the world. Rather than getting long sections of "look at my world, isn't it beautiful?" the world is revealed through the interactions between the characters and in the way they speak and think.
For example, the main character, Sophie, is convinced from Page 1 that there is no point at all in her trying to make anything of herself, because she is the oldest of three daughters, and everyone knows the eldest is the one that's least likely to succeed. This fairy tale structure shows up in other things throughout the story as well, and while it's never made into a big deal, it's thoroughly present, and that's enough.
Without a doubt, this book gets 5/5 from me, for the endearing characters, engaging story, and charming world. If one thing might be improved (and this is a very minor nitpicky thing, honestly) it would be a bit more emphasis on the relationships between Michael, Howl, and Sophie. We get it through their interactions and conversation, to be sure, but I would have liked to see more overt introspection.
I'm probably a little strange with that preference, but there you have it. :)
All in all, 10/10, would read it again. *nods* I will be angling to read the next 2 books in this series, but I think I've been focusing a bit too much on series recently, and will need to take some time to read stand-alone pieces for a while, so I have something to report on while I'm reading whole series(es?) for reviewing.