Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia

For the first time ever on Knight's Reviews I'm actually talking about a movie I refuse to watch.

No, wait, don't leave yet. Let me explain.

First, I'm not actually reviewing the movie Bridge to Terabithia, I'm just talking about the book. Second, while I hate it completely I also admit that it's a good book and definitely deserves its popularity. Just hold tight, you'll understand eventually.

Also, there will be spoilers. If you don't want that, read no further.

Bridge to Terabithia follows Jesse, a preteen boy living a normal life when he meets Leslie, the rich girl who just moved to his town. The two become friends and together create Terabithia, an imaginary world full of fantasy creatures where they rule as king and queen. The story takes us along on various adventures with the two until, at the end, Leslie dies a death almost as horrible as it is completely avoidable and Jesse suffers terrible grief. The end.

Okay, so that's kind of an unfair summary. Actually, Leslie's death helps Jesse learn about life and he moves on after a lot of heartache, a stronger person for the experience. There's nothing particularly wrong with writing a dark story, or even a dark story aimed at children. I completely understand that terrible things can happen out of nowhere and shatter our happy lives and I do see the merit in teaching that message to children so that they're not devastated by it when it inevitably one day happens to them too. So yes, I can totally understand why this story was written and why it was made into a movie.

I just hate it.

Bridge to Terabithia's message is a lot like getting vaccinated. It's a hard and painful thing that you need to go through once so that when the real thing happens later you can deal with it and move on instead of dying. That said, would you want to be vaccinated every day, for fun? Of course not. The story of Bridge to Terabithia is horrible and depressing and pointless, teasing you in with fantasy and friendship and then bashing you over the head with the brutal death of a preteen girl. It would be like if Lassie ended with a tree falling on the dog, or if Alf ended with the titular alien being captured and dissected by the government.


I don't think I can really fairly review either the movie or the book, so I just won't. What I will say is that the story is well-written and the characters are very likable. The fantasy world of Terabithia, as well, is interesting and imaginative, no pun intended.

But that's kind of the problem. If Bridge to Terabithia had been entirely about exploring the concepts of mortality and the meaning of life then that would have been different, but it's not. Instead a harmless, upbeat story about friendship and imagination is derailed for a clumsy message that's just as painful and out of nowhere as Leslie's death itself. That is why I fucking hate this story.

That said, at least it's not Doggy Poo.

Annotation From The Future:

I have recently revisited this in order to give it an actual rating. See my new review here.

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