This book has some interesting themes, but I feel like everything was over-said. It’s more fun to read books that take a bit of thinking to unravel. For example, the carnival represents something evil. It’s set apart from the town (ordinary people), and in case you didn’t get it when he mentioned that the Funeral March was being played at the carnival and all the characters had bad feelings when they attended the carnival, one of the carnival people is named, “Mr. Dark.” Another example is with the importance he places on age. Charles Halloway, Will’s father, was uncomfortable with himself because he felt old. His issue with age was pointed out over and over again throughout the book. I kept thinking, “Okay, okay, I get it” as I was reading this book.
This isn’t a bad book by any means. It was interesting – it’s just that I got impatient with it. I think it would be a great book for a middle school student to read to talk about some of the symbolism (carnival representing evil and Will & Jim – Will representing the better side of a person and Jim representing our darker side). I also found it annoying that Will was fair-complexioned and Jim was dark complexioned. It wasn’t that Jim was evil, but he wasn’t as cautious as Will. He cared more about adventure and freedom than about how people felt or about their safety (exp: when he took the lightning rod off his roof).
Warning: don’t read the next part if you haven’t read the book because I’m going to talk about a spoiler. The ending of the book was awful. First, Will’s dad finally learns to accept himself when the witch comes after him at the library. He laughs at the witch, thereby making her powerless because his laughter shows that he thinks she is ludicrous. This is where I have a problem. The author is saying that something only has power if you give it power so when he laughs at the witch, the witch loses her power. However, the witch doesn’t die. The witch lives on. Later, they end up back at the carnival and Will’s dad slaps him because he is crying. Will’s dad makes him laugh in order to kill off the witch. I understood Ray Bradbury’s message, but I just found the whole ending ridiculous.
If you’re going to read a Ray Bradbury book, read Fahrenheit 451.