I think that the reason I didn’t like this book as much as I liked the movie was because the movie was pretty different than the original book. The film of The Prestige really emphasizes the action and the suspense of The Prestige the book. I actually really liked the movie–it was dark, it was imaginative, original, and a lot of fun to watch. But the action in the book just didn’t pop as much, even though the magic tricks described there were more spectacular. It’s not that I went into this book expecting to find a more in-depth version of the movie, but I wished the book had at least lived up to what’s written on the back cover.
What I did like about the book, though, was the way that Priest chose to tell the story. It’s told from, by my last count, five different people (two of whom are pretending to be the same person). Since this book is really about perception, it was a masterful touch.
I find that perception is a fascinating concept–probably because I got my literature degree a couple of decades into the Postmodernist era. But it’s interesting to realize that reality, which seems so concrete, is really a product of our perception of events. In The Prestige, a character named Alfred Bordon returns again and again to the idea that most of the magic he does is really just a matter of altering the audience’s perception of what he’s doing. And the rivalry between Borden and the illusionist Angier is a product of how they each percieve the other’s actions. If the characters had taken more time to try and see things from the other’s viewpoint, the rivalry wouldn’t have been as disastrous. But then, there probably wouldn’t have been a plot either.
In the end though, I think I actually prefer the movie. It was a much leaner telling of the story. The book, I felt, got bogged down because it was trying to do too many things at once.