Mook Review: A Princess of Mars/”John Carter”

A Princess of Mars – Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Princess of Mars, Book Cover, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mookology, Review


From the beloved Tarzan series author Edgar Rice Burroughs came the tale of heroic John Carter in A Princess of Mars. I was very excited to read this book.  As a sci-fi and fantasy genre fan I thought this classic would be fun to read and go hand in hand with the release of “John Carter” – Disney’s film adaptation of the story.

At almost 500 pages,  A Princess of Mars is not nearly spectacular enough.  It was incredibly tough for me to get through this novel for a number of technical reasons; Burroughs has an affinity for run on sentences and a total lack of commas. However, I mostly felt disconnect because there was no depth to the characters whatsoever.  Our narrator and antagonist John Carter is so two dimensional.  There was no reflection on his past life in Virginia, no emotional distress for miraculously ending up on Mars, and no validity to his love for Dejah Thoris.  The only mild case of feeling I found was his friendship with Sola and her bond to Tars Tarkas, which was feeble at best.  Perhaps I am missing something because I didn’t read the series as a whole, but I could barely make it through A Princess of Mars and I don’t know how anyone could continue with the series.

I don’t know what I was looking for with this novel but whatever it was, I didn’t find it.  For me, a truly good book requires some sort of mutual understanding of the characters and a developed plot; these things were just not there with A Princess of Mars.  It was a genuinely interesting idea and the world building was thorough and exceptional, but A Princess of Mars was too much action and not enough substance.  In plain words, Burroughs’ novel was not my cup of tea.

“John Carter” – Directed by Andrew Stanton

John Carter, Movie, Mookology, Andrew Stanton, Taylor Kitsch


Disney spent over 200 million to create this long-awaited adaptation.  After reading Burroughs’ novel, I expected that this attributed to high quality CGI and digital effects, considering several of the main characters of this story are somewhat mythical. In this respect, “John Carter” did not disappoint.  The intense imagery of Barsoom and its creatures (Green Martians, Woola, Thoats, etc) were pretty incredible and definitely respected the novelists’ original ideas.

However, that is probably where the praise for “John Carter” ends.  Truth be told, I love sci-fi and fantasy, I love stories that transcend other worlds, and I love action and suspense in films.  “John Carter” was unsuccessful in achieving any of these things and, as a whole, was void of any human emotion.  Taylor Kitsch’s portrayal of John Carter and Lynn Collins’ portrayal of Dejah Thoris were pretty awful, although I don’t think it was entirely their faults.  They became victim to over-acting in light of the outrageous fictional atmosphere and vivid concept of Barsoom, which caused John Carter and Dejah Thoris to seem out of touch and unrealistic.  The last thing you ever want in a movie is for the viewer to genuinely not care about it’s main characters, and that is exactly how I felt watching “John Carter.”  As for the action sequences, they were intense and ‘spectacular’ in a visual sense of the word but, personally, I felt a lot of it was pretty hokey.  The musical score was kinda of corny and reminded me of a low-budget action film from the 80’s.

As far as staying true to the novel, “John Carter” was on and off.  There were several scenes I recognized from the book, but the way the story flowed was much differently than in A Princess of Mars.  Several changes were made from the start of the film; Dejah Thoris is betrothed before she even meets John Carter, we learn about the Ninth Ray much earlier on, and John Carter is not obly taken as prisoner by the Green Martians, but is treated with the same care as the infants.

To be quite honest, I had a hard time finishing this movie in the same way I had a hard time finishing the book.  It is just not captivating.  The story has potential but was poorly developed and, in the case of the movie, was too exuberant in its presentation and lacking relatable characters.  Sorry Disney, but I have to agree with critics.  “John Carter” was an epic flop.

Mook Rating  ★


5 thoughts on “Mook Review: A Princess of Mars/”John Carter”

  1. I actually enjoyed the film. However, I went in with no expectation and I just enjoyed the visuals and the doggie. You have to admit, the doggie was cute. Or, well, maybe you have to be into dogs.

    Anyway, I have not read the book and your review does not entice me to read it, but the film did. Go figure.

    Good summary, thanks for the post.

    • I loved the dog!! She was probably my favorite aspect of the movie.. The novel is dense and difficult, so I do not recommend it, but I am happy you enjoyed the movie! To each their own :)

  2. Hello,

    A not so good book is a chance to the movie improve the original idea. By your comments this not happen in this case. Pity. I did not read the comics or watched the movie, but I know you have a good eye.

    Going further in the SciFi meaning, there are a book I think would be a very nice movie. The City and The Stars, by Arthur C. Clarke. Did you read it? The book show us a very, very far future (milions years ahead). Things are very differente in there, In techonology, biology, and main in society. Is a 1956 year book, based on a novell from Clarke from 1948! But did not aged. Is my Clarke`s favorite book.

    A sugestion for a future mookology’s post: books that should be mooks. I am sure you will put so many in the list.



  3. So that’s where he came from! I could have googled but I kept forgetting about it. Despite the movie review, I’ll probably still watch it for the sake of curiosity.

  4. Pingback: 4/14 Recycled Reviews « Book It.

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