Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review: The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

The Name of this Book Is Secretand you really shouldn't be reading it. Cass and Max-Ernst become friends when they discover a mysterious box containing a symphony of smells - and a missing magician, presumed dead. Now they are both being drawn into a dangerous secret that attracts villains right and left. Can they find the missing magician and figure out the secret before they are captured?

Things I Liked:
This book is absolute silliness and I loved it. Not only is it full of devious secrets and hilarious footnotes, but also has a touch of something deeper - it isn't all about being silly. I enjoyed the crazy adventures Cass and Max-Ernst experienced throughout, though I definitely think younger kids will enjoy them more. Then again, the author's tongue-in-cheek tone throughout might appeal to older readers as well. Here are just a few of my favorite quotes:
"The writer of a novel is like the dictator of the novel; he makes all his characters do exactly what he wants them to do, and say exactly what he wants them to say. But please don't draw any conclusions about the kind of people who write novels. After all, not all novelists are power-hungry madmen - some are power hungry madwomen." p.126-127 (footnote)
"Cass and Max-Ernest found themselves in a small, vault-like library crammed with books - piles and piles of books - all of them, you could tell at a glance, rare and priceless. Some were gilded and encrusted with jewels...It was like walking into a treasure trove of books, hoarded by pirate librarians." p.270
You know I couldn't resist the pirate librarians. :)

Things I Didn't Like:
The characters are definitely not fully developed, but this is definitely not a character-driven story. The strength of the book lies entirely in its humor and the absolute fun of the plot and writing.

Definitely reminiscent of A Series of Unfortunate Eventsby Lemony Snicket
A bit like the Alcatraz books by Brandon Sanderson
The footnotes reminded me of Larklight by Philip Reeve

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
some parts a bit scary

Overall rating: ****

Do you like books that directly address the reader and provide commentary throughout, or does it distract you? (And does anyone know if there is a technical term for when the author talks to the reader?)

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  1. Glad you liked this one. I think the books are hilarious and fun, even though I'm usually not a big fan of the author talking directly to the reader. I tried to get my 7 yo daughter to read these and she said no for that very reason - "I hate it when the author talks to me!" Oh well, her loss.

  2. Thanks for the review. You've made me want to read it now. I love when the author talks to the reader, especially when it's silly. I loved that in the Series of Unfortunate Events.

    I studied English and should know that term you're looking for, but I'm sorry. I don't. Six years out of college and I've forgotten it all. Oh, well.

  3. Susan, I only like it when it's funny, not when it's serious. (I get slightly aggravated by being called "gentle reader" unless it is sarcastic.)

    Mrs. Mordecai, I think it's normal to forget everything you learned in school. In fact, sometimes it's better for the job :)

  4. A silly book with hilarious footnotes? I'm so totally there!

  5. That sounds awesome!

    For me it totally depends. If the author talking to the reader is well-done, it works for me. But I think it's hard to pull off really well. (The exception being a 1st person narration by the main character.)

  6. Melissa, I'm a sucker for silly books, too. Especially kid ones.

    Britt, I agree that it is probably very hard to pull off. I think I haven't read many books where the author talks to the reader, though, because I can't remember any I didn't like...


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