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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read for older children and adults., 16 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Archer's Goon (Paperback)
This is Diana Wynne Jones at the top of her form - funny, perceptive and original. The story of Howard's encounter with Archer (the one with the goon) and his brothers and sisters is unpredictable, but entrely logical (sort of!).. It was made into a very good children's serial by the BBC some years ago. It's a really good well-written tale which will be really enjoyed by anyone old enough to cope with time distortion in fiction. It's also got quite enough going for it to enthrall any adult who enjoys fiction with fantasy in it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, I understand the ending!, 15 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Archer's Goon (Paperback)
I always think the mark of a good children's book is that you can re-read it as an adult without wanting to chew your own hands off with the pain and Diana Wynne-Jones more than qualifies. In fact, I have enjoyed (and understood!) Archer's Goon much more as a twenty-something than as a child. Anyone who has siblings to deal with will recognise aspects of themselves and their families in this bizzare and twisted tale.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out to take over the world - if they can leave town, 12 July 2005
By 
Michele L. Worley (Kingdom of the Mouse, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Archer's Goon (Paperback)
"A Goon is a being who melts into the foreground and sticks there."
"All power corrupts, but we need electricity."
"It pays to increase your word power."
- from the author's note
Although Jones seems to be classified as a "children's" author, I've found her a very fine fantasy writer with a sly sense of humor ever since I took amazon.com's advice and first read HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. While ARCHER'S GOON (a stand-alone work rather than a volume in any of Jones' series) has a young protagonist, but like Jones' other work can be enjoyed by any fantasy reader, since she doesn't talk down to her audience.
On the morning the story opens, Howard Sykes faces a typical day of school, avoiding violin practice, and the usual clashes with his little sister (nicknamed 'Awful', with a voice like an ambulance siren). Just an ordinary day in an ordinary little town, right?
Then the title character, a huge thug promptly nicknamed 'the Goon', shows up.
"What's Dad done?"
"Told her. Sykes got behind with his payment. Archer wants his two thousand. Here to collect it."
"Who *is* Archer?"
"Archer farms this part of town. Your dad pays, Archer doesn't make trouble."
In exchange for being let off his taxes - and maybe other things - Howard's father has been sending 2000 words in an envelope to City Hall every month for years. Sykes tries to laugh this off, saying it's a private joke he used to break his writer's block years ago - but now one sibling after another of the seven siblings running the town wants to get hold of the last batch of words and figure out what Archer's been up to all this time. Despite being adults, the siblings don't get on any better than Howard and Awful do; they've just got a truce by which they've divvied up the city. (One sister runs law enforcement while her twin handles crime, for example; Archer runs city power, Hathaway transportation. The brother who got last choice got waste management.) We eventually meet each sibling in turn; in some cases, the main characters must work out where that particular sibling's HQ must be, given their discipline.
The siblings settled into town about a decade before the story opens, planning to use it as a base for taking over the world - but they can't even get along with each other except for staying out of each other's way, and some seem to have changed their minds about running the world. But at least one appears to be interfering with all the others - all of them seem magically constrained to stay within the city limits, although they all deny knowing who did it, how, or why. The siblings have different personalities, and one or two really *are* efficient enough at organization to run the world if they can get free of the town.
Sitting down and asking myself why I like this book so much, I think it's basically the same reason I like some of GK Chesterton's grand conspiracy stories: on the surface we have an ordinary, apparently completely mundane and boring setting - but underneath that surface, even the most mundane activity may cover the activities of some agent of a colorful conspiracy. For instance, Hathaway doesn't get out much, which explains the town's disorganized road construction programs and why potholes don't get fixed properly. Archer has his secret lair in a bank vault and likes gadgets. The brother who runs entertainment travels with an entourage of disco dancers and the local cathedral choir when he wants to foil eavesdroppers.
The Goon himself *looks* very threatening, and refuses to leave without Archer's overdue batch of words, but he's easily bullied about little things like where he puts his feet, and can almost be overlooked like a large pet or easygoing protector - a dangerous assumption to make, perhaps.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best childrens books I have ever read!, 9 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Archer's Goon (Paperback)
If you like Diana Wynne Jones, read this. If you have never read any Diana Wynne Jones, start with this one.
Archer's Goon is the story of a teenage boy and his family who arrive home one day to see the title character sitting in their kitchen. The book chronicles the events that follow, from meeting the Goon's employer, Archer, and the rest of his dysfunctional family, to an explaination of why they have such an interest in Howard, and just how powerful words can be.
Readers of any age will love this book, it's witty, clever, and Howard's sister, Awful has to be one of the best characters ever written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent plot, 28 Aug 2007
This review is from: Archer's Goon (Paperback)
I came to Archer's Goon when the BBC showed it as a series for kids in 1992. I went out and bought the book - the edition with a photo of Torquil and Shine from the TV series on the front - and have re-read it and loved it ever since.

One weird thing about it though, that I didn't pick up on as a kid but bugs me now, is that the plot is definitely set in Britain but there are American idioms running throughout, such as 'sidewalk' and the like. I assume the publishers just sent out the US edition in Britain thinking it would be ok, but it makes for a jarring read on occasion.

But definitely a good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for listening to on car journeys, 21 April 2003
By 
liz "Like listening in my car" (Bury, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Archer's Goon (Audio Cassette)
Thgis tape introduced my family to Diana Wynne-Jones. My children aged 10, 8, and 6 all enjoyed it and it kept them quiet during our recent journey to Wales.
Although a fantasy story the characters were easy to believe in and there was a good twist near the end.
The sister called Awful made my own childrens' behaviour much more tolerable!
My husband and I both enjoyed the tape.
I will certainly consider buying more of this author either to read or to listen to in the car.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is for anyone with brothers and sisters!, 4 Aug 2001
This review is from: Archer's Goon (Paperback)
Archers Goon is the first Diana Wynne Jones book I ever read, and its still my favourite now. Anyone who has brothers and sisters(4 in my case) will recognize a lot of the sibling rivavlry in the book. Its a really fun, original story with a lot of imagination. It is quite complicated and you may need to read it twice to completely understand it, but don't let that put you off! In the book a boy called Howard is suddenly stuck trying to help a family of seven wizards who he never even knew existed before. But Howards a lot more closely connected to them than he might think.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem from Diana Wynne Jones, 10 April 2011
By 
H. M. Holt "souloftherose" (Tring, Herts) - See all my reviews
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It all starts when Howard Sykes comes home from school one day to find the Goon sitting in the kitchen. All the Goon will tell them is that he's come from Archer and Quentin Sykes, Howard's father, has got behind with his payments and owes Archer two thousand.

Howard discovers that the two thousand owed by his father relates to two thousand words his father has been writing on a monthly basis although his father's never heard of Archer either. It soon becomes clear that in addition to the mysterious Archer there are other people in town who are very interested in getting Howard's father to write two thousand words for them and that these people also have strange powers which can make life very uncomfortable for the Sykes family.

I really enjoyed this book and although I originally gave it four stars, I'm now considering 4.5 stars. I really like the way DWJ writes about families. Howard's family is dysfunctional, his parents have blazing rows when they're tired and stressed, he often finds his younger sister incredibly annoying (Anthea also known as Aweful) but they also show a great deal of love for each other.

Similarly, the bad guys aren't stereotyped as wholly bad, by the end of the book you can understand why they've behaved the way they have done.

Add in some great humour and this is a fantastic book for children and adults to enjoy. And sadly out of print at the moment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fond memories., 25 May 2014
By 
J. A. Glover "jargonought" (Leicestershire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Archer's Goon (Paperback)
Brilliant book, one of her early works, I was exceedingly happy to put it onto my TBRR pile. I also have fond memories of the TV series and hope one day to see it released on DVD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great goon, great kid, 24 Nov 2013
By 
Dr. W. L. Lyon (Canterbury, Kent UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Archer's Goon (Paperback)
I bought this for a nine year old grandson - he loved it, raved about how funny it was, and wants his own goon. I read it before sending to him and I loved it as well. It's funny, has a fascinating goon and a clever boy that is determined to save his family from the goon. He exploits the goon to solve assorted tricky situations and the ending is surprising.
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