The Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater is the first ARC (Advanced Review Copy) I have received, and as such I really wanted to love it so I could write an overly-gushing review. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this book as much as I have enjoyed other young adult fantasy. Although I thought the story was entertaining, I just didn’t connect with the characters very much and therefore wasn’t thrilled with the book.
The Book of Nonsense is the story of 12-year-old twins Dex and Daphna and the events that take place on their thirteenth birthday. The twins mother died when they were babies, and they have been raised by their father and their mother’s friend Latty. The adventure begins when their father returns from a book buying excursion, and Daphna takes him to a rare book store to sell the book. Asterius Rash, the mysterious and quite creepy owner of the store, does something to their father and all chaos breaks loose as the twins try and figure out what is going on. The twins don’t get along, at all, but they need to come together to solve this mystery or face almost certain death.
The rest of the plot, which I won’t go into because of spoilers, is very good. The twists right near the end of the story were unexpected, and the back-up characters were well-described. The book also has a good combination of mental exercise (trying to figure out the mystery along with Daphna and Dex) and action (potential murders, sneaking through dark attics and fighting scary old women with guns). The villains are also really scary!
I think what I wasn’t thrilled about was the main characters–I just didn’t connect with Dex and Daphna. I know they were supposed to be sympathetic and quirky, but I just found them both a little annoying. For example, throughout the book the twins don’t get along, but I never felt like that conflict got developed well. Daphna is an overachiever and Dex isn’t (for good reasons, we find out), but I still never really got why they hated each other, it was like they just did because it makes a good conflict to work from.
In general, I thought this was a pretty good fantasy book, but not one of my favorites ever. It is the first book in a potential five-part series, and there is apparently already talk about movies and book banning as the series gets going. I actually think this book would make a good movie–there would be some space to spin out Dex and Daphna’s relationship more and the dialogue might also get some improvement with a script writer. All in all, pretty good, but not awesome.
Links to Enjoy:
Other Reviews: The Compulsive Reader
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