February 25, 2017

Review: ICO - Castle in the Mist, by Miyuki Miyabe




Title: ICO - Castle in the Mist

Author: Miyuki Miyabe

Publisher: Haikasoru

Date of Publication: August 16th, 2011 (first published in 2005)

Number of Pages: 370





Summary

When a boy named Ico grows long curved horns overnight, his fate has been sealed - he is to be sacrificed in the Castle in the Mist. But in the castle, Ico meets a young girl named Yorda imprisoned in its halls. Alone they will die, but together Ico and Yorda might just be able to defy their destinies and escape the magic of the castle.

Review

This is definitely one of the most special book cases I've encountered so far. In case you didn't recognise this cover, this is a book adaptation of the PlayStation 2 game ICO. I am aware that this is a popular game and there definitely will be some who have actually played it (and loved it). But there also will be some of you who haven't even heard about it. Having said that this book was a must for me as well as for the video games to books challenge, being an ICO adaptation. I would even gladly read a Shadow of the Colossus adaptation, and even one of the most recent one The Last Guardian. Yes, this team creates interesting games, with touching stories that in the hands of skillful writers can become great books. Having said all that, ICO - Castle in the Mist lives up to the expectations that this video game has set.

Ico is a young boy, who is unlucky enough to be born with horns in his head. This means that he a sacrifice and in a certain age he has to go to the Castle in the Mist, never to leave again. Nobody knows what happens to the sacrifaces there, not even anyone wants to talk about it. So, Ico is resigned to his fate and goes to this castle. There he meets a mysterious girl, Yorda, who is also trapped in this castle. Every time she touches the young boy he sees images of times long gone, and bit by bit the story of the forbidding castle is revealed. The only way for Ico and Yorda to survive is to trust each other and cooperate. But will they be able to win the Queen and lift the curse from the Castle in the Mist?

Ico - Castle in the MistJust from this decription it's plain to see the plot of this book is that of a pure fantasy novel. It's a battle against evil. It really has all the elements that makes such a story great. A young protagonist who can't really understand what is happening to him, another young protagonist who really tries to break free from the evil that has bound her all those years, it has visions of the past, it has a menacing villain and her minions, it has the discovery of a long forgotten book which describes the way that the curse can be lifted, it even has the death of a dear friend.

But what does this novel actually add to the story, if you've played the video game before? Well, for one it's interesting to see the two different points of view. In the first and the last chapter we follow Ico. In this way, we learn what he feels and we learn what he thinks. This is a big deal, as in the game he doesn't use any actual words. We get his backstory and so we feel about him. Ico - Castle in the Mist doesn't begin from that dark room in the castle as in the video game. It rather begins on the village where Ico grew up. There is also a very interesting chapter from Yorda's point of view. She has a flashback where all of her memories come back to her and we learn everything about the Queen and her pact with the Dark God.

The ending doesn't change at all from the video game. It all ends in the beach where Ico meets Yorda again. I liked it very much. It leaves room for hope and I can't help guessing what they would have done. Would Ico return to Toksa village with Yorda? Could he restore the horned-men's reputation? I could almost see the possibility of a sequel here.
    
The other thing that I really liked in this version of the story is the description of the places. Having seen them before, it was natural to expect them to be described in some way. Miyuki Miyabe managed to bring all of the familiar sceneries with great detail. But it was never tiring. When the language tends to be descriptive I normally lose my interest, but this isn't the case with Ico - Castle in the Mist. The language is indeed descriptive in this book, but somehow it's full of tension and I couldn't put it down. Plus, what the castle really does is add more elements to the epic atmosphere.

The thing that was a little lacking in this novel was actually the one that I never imagined it would. I'm talking about the action. There were time when Yorda was in danger by those mysterious creatures-minions, but Ico always found a way to fight them easily. The final battle with the Queen felt rash. It was like Ico followed a predestined root, the kind you'd a expect a player would follow after watching a walkthrough video.

Ico - Castle in the MistAlso, one of the things that made Ico such a unique game was the holding of the hands. You literary run around this castle with Yorda holding hands! In this novel, this wasn't the case. I mean, of course there were moments that they held theirs hands, but it was only used when Ico needed to see a vision from the past, and just then.

Overally, Ico - Castle in the Mist is a great adaptation. It's a fantasy novel at its roots and it doesn't disappoint. This is a rare case for books that come from video games, and it certainly can be read by anyone. Even if you haven't  heard of this video game before but you like fantasy then you're going to love it!

In this case, it's a tie between the video game and book adaptation. So, the score becomes:


Scoreboard


No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello, everyone! Thanks for stopping by. I value comments a lot. So if you have anything to say feel free to express yourselves on the comments below! I try to respond to all of your comments and if you leave a link to your blog I will visit it :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...