September 26, 2010

Surrealism Sunday?

Welcome to Book Blurbs of September, Part One, or, more accurately, Book Blurbs of August Revisited, because I am SO BEHIND on my book reviews that I have been reading additional books as an escape route from having to tackle the enormous list of books I need to review. Yes, I realize there is something counterproductive about that. Anyway, today I present my impressions of one surreal children's/MG title and one extremely surreal YA title.

I obtained both of these books from the Stanislaus County Library, despite them no longer being open on Friday OR Sunday. Boo on budget cuts.

Firstly, I read an absolutely hysterical and charming middle-grade mystery-ish book entitled The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by fellow blogger, he of multiple names, Sam Riddleburger/Tom Angleberger. And, if you're like me, you'll want to know the answer to one critical question right away—and that answer is YES, there are instructions included for making an origami Yoda. (I checked on this before I even brought the book home from the library. I would have been highly disappointed had there not been origami Yoda instructions.) Anyway, this is a story told in the form of many mini-stories, all of which focus on the main character's quest to understand just what the heck is going on with his classmate, Dwight.

Dwight is the most awkward, troublemaking, goofy kid ever, but for some reason, when he puts Origami Yoda on his finger, he is suddenly able to dispense surprisingly wise advice—despite perpetrating what might be the world's worst Yoda impression. I loved this book, from the silly yet entirely fitting doodles in the margins to the ultimate outcome of origami Yoda's advice. I can't imagine anyone NOT liking this book, and can easily picture parents and their kids reading it together and screaming with laughter. Really. Quite hilarious it is, hmm. And I just found out there will be a sequel, so I'm happy about that.

Buy The Strange Case of Origami Yoda from an independent bookstore near you!

Also in August, I finally read Libba Bray's Going Bovine, which probably everyone else in the universe has already read, but hey, it was new to me. [Note: minor spoilers are about to ensue. I'll give you a moment to cover your eyes, if needed.]

Okay. If you're still here, you don't care about minor spoilers. I read some blurbs or reviews which compared narrator Cameron's adventures to those in The Phantom Tollbooth, which is understandable, but personally, I felt it had a lot more in common with The Wizard of Oz. A disaster (in this case, Cameron's illness with mad cow disease) precipitates an adventure which you're not entirely sure is real, especially since it becomes more and more outlandish and surreal as the story goes on. The adventure is peppered with a number of people from Cameron's real life (remember how the Scarecrow et al. were actually the farmhands for Dorothy's Auntie Em?). One of those people is a loyal sidekick who exists in real life—Gonzo—and then there's a good witch, who happens in this case to be an angel named Dulcie. There's even a mysterious Professor X who may be the only one who can cure Cameron and turn everything back to normal. So, yeah. Wizard of Oz. This was a loopy, madcap magical-realism romp—that's the only way I can describe it. Though in some ways I found the story to be a bit indulgent, on the whole I enjoyed the ride. I don't think this one's for everyone, and some might feel cheated by the way it all wraps up, but if you like adventures that just keep getting wilder and crazier, and don't mind the "is it real? is it not real? is it all in his head?" type of premise, then I'd recommend it.

Buy Going Bovine from an independent bookstore near you!


tanita davis said...

I appreciate your reviews - I tend not to write up any for books "everyone" has read, but the fact is, I hadn't gotten YOUR take on things, and I hadn't heard that Wizard of Oz reference - which makes me rather intrigued by Going Bovine! And of course, the Origami Yoda is so cool and already has a sequel coming!

Kelly Fineman said...

I really must track down Origami Yoda some time soon. And rescue Going Bovine from M's room - I still haven't read it. Haven't heard the Oz comparison before (or the Phantom Tollbooth, either), although I have heard the Don Quixote comparison more than once.

Saints and Spinners said...

I still have to read Going Bovine, so I'll request it now. By the way, check out the acknowledgments section of Origami Yoda.


aquafortis said...

Oh, yes, I saw that!! I'd forgotten to mention it because I already took the book back to the library and was working from (a very sieve-like) memory, but how awesome is that?

BookMoot said...

Couldn't agree more about Origami Yoda. Charming is the word.

Covered my eyes and plugged my ears about Going Bovine. Still have that in the TBR pile.

aquafortis said...

It's quite a relief to hear that you guys haven't read Going Bovine. From all the buzz when it first came out, I thought I was probably the last person on earth to read it. :) I'm very limited these days in my book-buying budget, so chances are if it's not at the library yet (or if I'm really far down the hold queue) I haven't read it...