Friday, May 06, 2005

Okay, so I read Whales on Stilts, the first book in what appears to be a series called the Amazing Worlds of MT Anderson, by (wait for it) MT Anderson.  I say "appears to be," because the book is a parody of juvenile fiction series like (very specifically) Goosebumps or Tom Swift.  So regardless, it's going to read like an installment in a series.
Anyway, it was okay, but I wasn't completely overwhelmed.  (Friends have been recommending another of his novels, Feed, for a while, and that's probably better.)  I mean, it was funny.  Really funny.  Almost laugh-out-loud funny in places, along the lines of Tom Mason and Dan Danko's Sidekicks series.  But the plot and characters weren't really all that gripping, and as funny as it was, it really felt very Lemony Snicket in terms of writing style.  (Only, you know, more jokes and less of the "Let me tell you a story about a bunch of people who died" thing.)  And despite the cover, designed to look like a worn-out, retro series cover, it didn't really have the same sort of old-school feel.
So, as someone who had read the adventures of the Hardy Boys and similar series as a kid, and was expecting a post-modern homage to those sorts of books, I felt a little let down.  Which probably has more to do with my own expectations than any weaknesses on the part of the book.  Which means, if this were an actual review, I'd essentially be saying, "That's not the way I would have done it."  But, since this isn't a review, just my thoughts about reading the book, I can say whatever the heck I want.  And so I have...
Speaking of reviews, the next book on my list is Silverfin, the first Young James Bond novel by Charlie Higson.  I'd been looking forward to this, and even bought a copy rather than wait for the library to get it, but it's getting some so-so reviews.  Me, I wanted it because I like James Bond, I liked the Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) TV series that Higson produced, and I like the idea that it's a juvenile period adventure series.  (These books are written as if the original novels took place at the time they were written, in the 50s and 60s, which would place Bond's teen years in the 30s.)  And I'm undaunted by the mixed reviews, because--if it's not apparent at this point--I don't place a lot of stock in them.  Those reviewers won't necessarily be bringing the same things I am to the book, so they'll respond in different ways.  For example, School Library Journal wrote that the Alex Ryder books by Anthony Horowitz are a more exciting series of teen spy novels.  (And I hear lots of good things about those, so I'm going to read the first one of those and see how I like it.)  But the Ryder books are contemporary thrillers, and part of what excites me about the Young Bond ones is the period setting.  So... We'll see.

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