An adaptation of a screenplay adaptation of a book. You can’t help but wonder if a book like this could possibly be any good. For one thing, book adaptations of scripts are rarely good so why would this, a double adaptation be an exception? The reason, pure and simple, is that Dave Eggers is a fantastic writer.
The Wild Things is about a wild eight-year-old boy named Max who runs away from home after acting so out of control that his family all gets mad at him and he is convinced no one wants him anymore. He finds a little boat and sails away, hoping to reach his father, but instead comes to a strange island where he sees enormous creatures of all different shapes destroying nests in a forest. Max manages to insinuate himself into these creatures’ lives, as their king and they expect him to solve all of their problems. And there are a lot of problems. More than an eight-year-old, and possibly any adult, could possibly manage. The problem of course is that if he does not appease them, they may just eat him up.
There is something so incredibly magical about the way Eggers tells this story. I never liked the children’s version, it always felt like it was missing something, but this version is so full of heart. Eggers slips inside the mind of this confused, wild child and as the reader you feel and experience everything that he experience. You understand his feelings of betrayal when his sister fails to stand up for him, understand his revenge when decides to dump water all over her room, you can feel his fear and tiredness and excitement and hunger and confusion and the myriad of other emotions he experiences while on the island and desperately trying to make things better while only making things worse. And most of all, you can feel his heartbreak at the end.
The world is vivid from the trees with round holes to the lava flowing just beneath the surface to the various creatures that live within. You can really picture it, imagine running through it, fearing that Carol or one of the others might accidentally (or purposefully) crush you. You connect to Max’s infatuation with Katherine. After all, who doesn’t want to be loved by the aloof, cooler than everyone else person in the group?
This is only the second book that has ever brought tears to my eyes as I read it.
Though the creatures seem, on the surface, to be simple and childlike, there is so much more there to see. Each of them has problems–feeling empty and sad, unable to control their rage, feeling less than the others, feeling like an outsider.
Eggers truly makes you understand what it is like to be young again, the turmoil, adventure, and imagination. This is truly one of the most exciting and well-written books I’ve read in a while and I couldn’t help but root for Max even as he made a great mess of things over and over again.