Top critical review
A modern day Magic Faraway Tree without much magic for me
on 27 August 2013
I think children may love this book. I didn't, but then I am not the target market.
The story is about a young boy called Michel. He is required to babysit his toddler cousin, Romain. In the garden one day, Michel turns his back on Romain to go and fetch a lost football, and when he turns around again, Romain is gone.
It transpires that Romain has been sucked into a vortex which has dropped him into a world in which there are infinite parallel universes, all of which are connected by a giant corridor. It is sort of like a modern version of The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. The worlds are all called things like Candy World etc, and each is themed.
Following Romain's footsteps, Michel reluctantly teams up with a talking Bassett hound called Duke. Duke has lost his brothers, and it transpires that both Duke's brothers and Romain have been kidnapped by an evil genius called The Master, who has put Romain and the dogs to work in his school.
Michel and Duke battle through a series of increasingly bizarre worlds in order to find their lost relatives and bring them home.
This book could be great but I have issues with it.
The story is not well executed. It is like watching a montage of action scenes, or jump cuts in films rather than a story. There is no depth and back story to the characters, there is very little explanation as to why all the things in the story are happening, or explanation which makes sense and explains all the oddnesses in the story anyway. There is simply a collection of encounters, funny scenes, fight scenes, action scenes and flight scenes, with nothing really holding them together except the flimsiest plot arc.
The characters all speak oddly. There are a variety of different slangs and dialects peppered through the book which could add richness and texture to the narrative, but which were not particularly well executed in my opinion. I struggled with this a lot.
Having said all this, I think many children will enjoy the book for what it is, and not notice the things that bug me. They will find it funny and exhilarating and a good read.