Review by Emily, high school student and bibliophile
So I picked this one up randomly off the library shelf one day, and my first thought was, "What a tome!"
Naturally, I brought it home with me. I never can resist big books. They draw me like magnets. And this is one big book, at over 700 pages.
This book is about stories. About why we tell them, and how certain things must happen within those stories to give the reader (or watcher, or listener) satisfaction and closure. The author has obviously thoroughly researched; he cites literally hundreds of stories: plays, operas, epics, books, movies . . . and he shows how each is unique, and yet so very similar to others of its genre.
The seven basic plots are as follows: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. He goes through each, and its variations, and shows what has to happen for that story to be fulfilled - or turned on its head. It's fascinating how many very different stories have the very same bones, really. He begins with a striking example: the movie Jaws and the epic Beowulf. When he breaks it down, they're scarily similar. Yet, he insists, it is not because someone decided to copy the story, it is because we all think in terms of stories, and our human nature draws us back to these archetypal plots through the vast reaches of time.
In the end, I loved this book because it's an invaluable resource. It made me think, and although at times difficult to wade through, it really did make for some wonderful reading.
Market: Adult Nonfiction
Language: Mild to none