–He was too far away to make out clearly. But she recognized him somewhere deep inside. Her ribs gave a flutter when she first saw him; he was something grander than ordinary.-
This book BLEW. MY. MIND. I came to really enjoy and appreciate the writing style, which at first I found far too lighthearted and a little bit confusing with all the metaphors and mind pictures. At first it seemed like just an ordinary book about a geek with bizarre British relatives (you know the type), and it took a long time before I began to realize that it was not that kind of book at all, but I have to say that even if it did take a good quarter of the book to figure that out, it made the rest of the book COMPLETELY worth it.
This is not a book about a geek with bizarre British relatives.
This is a book about the narrator telling the story of a geek with bizarre British relatives.
That’s right ~ the writer wrote about a writer writing about the kind of kid that people look down on and that other kids bully in the schoolroom because he’s different and he’s into things that require imagination and creativity. This is a book hailing geeks everywhere. And the great thing about it is that first you realize that the book is about a geek. Then you start to realize that it’s not written from the point of view of the geek, like most books would be ~ instead, it’s obviously from the view of the writer. Then, in the last few chapters, just when you start to get used to the idea that you’ve finally got the whole thing figured out, you find out that the writer isn’t the one writing it after all. It’s about a different writer ~ the narrator isn’t the author of the book, he’s an entirely new character of the story, and yet one that is all too familiar.
The first thing I realized that I found interesting was that the page numbers and chapter numbers were in Roman numerals, which added a nice bit of class. This book, honestly, didn’t start to get interesting until partway through Cecil’s wish. It was here that my mind was first blown. Ralph and the fairy Prestidigitator (I had to mentally repeat that name in my head several times before I decided that it was, in fact, pronounceable) had just finished making their grand plan to free all the fairies, when all of a sudden…
Ralph dies. Just like that. Slumps over dead. With absolutely no warning.
So Prestidigitator begins to cry. As you would expect from a female. (After all, she’s just been left all by her one-foot-tall lonesome, in enemy territory, with the burdensome job of freeing all the other hundreds of fairies.) And her tears drip on Ralph’s face. And, just like a Disney movie, he comes back to life.
But the truth is, he wasn’t really dead. Well, he WAS dead, quite so. But he was brought back. Not from Prestidigitator’s genuine sorrow at the loss of a new friend, as Disney tries to convince us is possible, but because this is a WISH, and in a wish, you don’t die by natural causes. You’re killed by monsters. That’s what makes it so great.
Honestly I haven’t the time or space to tell you ALL the ways this book blew my mind, because there were simply far too many brilliant unexpected turns. But the span of locations was excellent ~ first you were in New Jersey, then England, then a seemingly ordinary fantasy world (as ordinary as fantasy worlds can be, that is), then you’re swept off into a snow-infested kingdom, and then ~ and this is where it REALLY got weird ~ all of a sudden you’re in the underworld dodging zombies and skeletons and defying all forms of realistic and fantastical logic. Basically, if there is any logic in you, it will be defied, but the beauty is that it will be so cleverly replaced with new logic that makes so much sense it’ll make you question all your old logic. In short, this is the most logical book I’ve ever read, and yet it’s teeming with fantasy. It’s just crazy.
I REALLY started enjoying this book when I reached Daphne’s wish, because all of a sudden the narrator really began showing himself as a narrator and not just an author writing a book. The narrator was PART of the story, and he interacted with his character ~ Ralph ~ and not only that, but he called in ANOTHER narrator, the narrator of “the Snow Queen,” because that’s the world in which Daphne’s wish took place, and the two narrators kept talking to each other in the book. It sounds confusing when I say it like that, but trust me ~ it was really brilliant.
It was really cool (because I’m sick) and kind of funny (because I’m sick) to see all the characters constantly dying. It was like a show written by Steven Moffat. Everybody died several times over in this book. But to keep this book review at a relatively decent length, I’ll try to wrap this preview up and get into the book quotes. I must say that one of my favorite parts of the book was the random Choose Your Own Adventure that was placed in Cecil’s wish, and the fact that Ralph immediately died on the next page, if you chose the right (or wrong) path for him to take. The book would have been over right there.
I think this book would make an excellent movie, but in speculating, it would probably end up being like twelve hours long, so maybe a TV show would make more sense ~ though that isn’t nearly as good. Hmm. Perhaps four films?
–She knew, more than her husband did, that her son may have been a geek, but he was a geek with a sense of adventure.
And, as we all know, there’s no way of stopping a geek with a sense of adventure.-
People hate on nerds a lot and they pick on them in school and stuff, but if you really take a moment to think about it, that isn’t really a smart move. These are people who are smart enough to kill you quietly, hide your body where no one will ever find it, cover up their tracks to the tiniest detail, and erase all evidence that you ever existed. Geeks/nerds (there IS a difference between the two) have both the imagination AND the knowledge to build worlds that ordinary folk can barely fathom in dreams, AND THEN make it completely logical and realistic. Geeks are the true power in the world.
Don’t you forget it.
–“No, it’s totally fine ~ but it’s weird, too. It’s like, someone’s really putting himself out there when he tells you something, you know? You have to respect that.”-
Dropping back into the more sentimental side of the book (when in fact this may be one of the only lines in the whole book that had deeper wisdom and meaning that can be applied to everyday life), I found this quote by Cecil to be quite true and relatable. Telling anything about yourself to anyone at all is a risk, because it could in some way be used against you if that person sees fit. (Luckily, most people don’t see fit.) Cecil had just told Ralph an embarrassing story about himself, and they had only just met (which is quite a large display of trust if you ask me). If someone tells you something about himself, the least you can do is respect it and feel honored by his trust in you. He really is putting himself out there. It’s like he’s putting a piece of himself in your hands along with a tiny knife, and trusting that you’re not going to stab him in the back with it.
–“Dad had a special room constructed for Beatrice in her wing,” Cecil continued mutedly, after swerving around a loping tractor. “It’s got all her books. She’s big into trilogies with yellowed pages. She’s a total dork. Aren’t you, Ugs?” Cecil glanced at her and turned up the music. “I think she really wants to be the characters she reads about.”
“Well, I guess that’s the point of it all,” Ralph said, out of dark solidarity.-
That IS the point. Really. Every book-lover loves books mostly for this reason. When you read a book, you put yourself into the story. Your consciousness just sort of melds with the book, the characters, the plots, and you lose yourself in the story. That’s the amazing thing about reading books. It gives you an escape from your own life and your own world and your own problems. You go into someone else’s world and you learn about their problems, and you see how they deal with them, and you learn from their mistakes. It’s like living multiple lives at once. If you don’t like reading books and you don’t understand why people do, well, there you go ~ this is it. Books like this one.