Book: The Prestige

I haven’t reviewed a book around these parts in quite a while. However, I felt the desire to recommend Christopher Priest’s novel, “The Prestige.” Written a few years ago, it was later made into a movie starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. I loved the movie (which was directed by Christopher Nolan), and hadn’t realized it was based on a book.

Recently had a sale on books, and “The Prestige” was one of the novels available. Intrigued about the book, I bought it and began listening. And here’s what I discovered:

The movie and the book are completely different. Usually if the book is fantastic, the movies fail in comparison. It’s rare that a movie matches up to the expectations of the book. Even worse is when the movie changes a brilliant book into something completely horrible (I’m looking at you “Simon Birch“).

Fortunately, I hadn’t seen the movie for at least four years, so it wasn’t as though I remembered every detail to compare with the book. As the audiobook progressed, I decided to add the movie to my Netflix list and bump it to the top. I received the movie last week and watched it even though I wasn’t done with the book. Boy, is that movie good. Really good storytelling, from beginning to end (does Chris Nolan EVER make bad movies???).

And as I continued to listen to the audiobook, I realized that a lot of the book was changed for the movie. But that didn’t affect my ability to enjoy the book. In the end, the movie and the book, while they had the same overall storyline, were completely different. And they were both equally entertaining and absorbing. As much as I love the movie, I really enjoyed the book as well.

The story is of two rival magicians in the turn of the 20th century, competing for applause while attempting to ruin each other’s career – sometimes dangerously – and claim the spotlight for his own. It’s a simple story, and yet the book and movie alike show that all is not as it seems – in the quest to have “the perfect trick” you can lose everything.

I won’t say much more (I’m not a true book reviewer, after all), other than I highly recommend it. It’s a dark tale, but intriguing in the telling, and entertaining to the very end. Read it. And then watch the movie – but watch it as though it was a completely different story (which it is). You’ll enjoy that too.

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