In an effort to focus on something positive other than an election I am wary of, a financial crisis that enrages me, and the massive frustration of life in general, I’ve been indulging in some escapism. Now I have to admit up front that the book I’m going to go on and on about was written by a friend of long standing. However, as said friend can attest, had the book sucked, I would have told him so and would be writing a completely different entry right now warning all of you of the soul-crushing properties the novel contains. Fortunately, in the most simplified terms, the book rocks.
When I was a kid, my favorite stories hadda-kinda scare the crap out of me while humoring me at the same time. In the books and films I loved most, the adults were silly, slightly deranged, and gleefully endangered the lives of children who were serious and often more mature. Aside from inspiring a sense of wonder about the world, they also taught me to be wary of it. The movie Fantasia with the axe scene (careful what you wish for), Willy Wonka with the fantastic dispensing of all the annoying brats (everything in moderation), and hell, just about any fairy tale not involving a princess can be added to the list. Hansel and Gretel being my favorite, mostly because I believe the witch got a bad rap. If two little porkers came around eating my dream house of candy, you can be damn sure I’d be tossing their heaving fannies into the oven.
The unfortunate part of growing older though, lies in that fact that most escapist fiction for the older audience tends to be written from a science fiction perspective. Consequently, escapist fiction for kids tends to be rather insipid. Science fiction certainly has it’s place, but when I really want to escape from the world at large, I want straight up fantasy, no hi-tech gadgetry need apply, thanks. Lemony Snicket picked up the mantle with his “Series of Unfortunate Events” that appealed to all ages, but since the saga has ended, I have been left wanting. That is until now.
James Kennedy wrote “The Order of Odd Fish” some time ago. I remember when he emailed it to me after Sailor and I first moved to Maine. I spent a fantastic few days lying on my deck overlooking the graveyard with crows flying about reading of the trial and tribulations of Jo Laurouche in the alternate universe of Eldritch City. Rightly, the book was published and released in August.
I of course read it again, this time in proper binding, and was amazed the second time around at small nuances I had somehow missed before. I’ve read the book two more times since then picking out words and phrases that I know Kennedy has been fermenting in that noggin of his since high school. You got that, Kennedy? 2 MORE TIMES! What am I doing? You don’t even read this blog.
I’m not going to even bother trying to explain the plot, so instead I shall list all the things you don’t want to miss:
1. A Russian colonel who lives his life by his intuitive digestive system.
2. Sub-villain Ken Kiang, whom I always picture as Wyle E. Coyote with his “Superior Genius” whenever he appears.
3. The Belgian Prankster. THE BELGIAN PRANKSTER!. In a world of Osama Bin Laden and al’Qaeda, I find this super-villain name particularly enjoyable.
4. The telling of the history of the The Very Polite War.
5. The all powerful Box of Inconvenience.
But here’s what I love most about the book: it’s so fantastically out there. And I do mean out there. Suspend all disbelief if you plan to get through it. And while this is a novel geared towards young adults, come prepared with your dictionary. Kennedy does not deign to dumb it down for anyone. There’s a strict motto here: you’re along for the ride-all of it-or you’re not along at all.
In short, the book assumes the reader is of a certain amount of intelligence and in this age of micro-attention spans, text message spelling errors, and idiot celebu-tweens, I think it’s a rare joy to find a book that both adult and teen can enjoy for the fantasy and for its devilishly clever humor.
Note to Kennedy: you better get crackin’ on that sequel. I want to know the back story on Lily and Karsokov, and what the hell ever became of the Box of Inconvenience???