Crouching Hobos, Hidden Blogger
April 15, 2012 § 1 Comment
So I’m a year older (“me” being the voice of the physical being that is this blog), but I don’t feel any different. Well, that’s not true, because the changes I’ve undergone have been so comprehensive and slow as to render feelingsas inappropriate markers of growth. In other words, I don’t feel any different because that assumes I still feel the same as when I began: which is an un-truth.
In other other words: whooo! Party! We’ve got several things on the docket today, so here’s the first of many:
Week 15: The False Prince, Jennifer Nielsen
I know I said I was going to read Armies of Heaven, but that was before I went and forgot the book in a friend’s car. At least, I hope it’s in my friend’s car, or else there’s a hobo wandering around who is about to get an education in religious zealotry, mass murder, and the Crusades: r.e. getting righteous on someone’s ass, which is exactly what Toronto’s hobo population needs.
So instead of reading about mass violence and visions of the Apocalypse (sigh…), I read the review copy of The False Prince (Scholastic, $18.99 CDN) that Scholastic sent my store. It was pitched to us in glowing terms equating it to the Hunger Games and they called it “Game of Thrones for kids!” Which I guess would put it out of the Kid’s section, because it ain’t ASOIAF without rape.
I’m going to do something unusual for me and actually review it, and I’m doing this for two reasons. One is that my store was sent a review copy, so at the very least I can do what they ask me to do. Second, I feel that this is a good thing to do occasionally. I don’t want to crap where I work, but at the same time, reviews are a part of life. Good ones, bad ones, and in the end, they don’t matter as much as reviewers like to think they do.
The plot is that there’s a medieval-esque land where a corrupt noble is trying to train some street orphans (it always comes back to hobos) into masquerading as the long-lost prince of the country. Hence the “false” and “prince”. The “the” is there on a technicality. It’s a bit of a romp that’s, in a surprise twist for Kids books (this sure ain’t a Teen book), not particularly light-hearted. The main character is a stone-cold jerkm which is another twist, (which is sort of forgiven but not entirely) but the story moves at, a standard for young kid’s books these days, about a mile a minute. It’s not a bad read, certainly, but it’s really for the youth crowd that has an attention span too long for tv but still hasn’t found reddit. It doesn’t have the depth of The Hobbit, or the excitement of Alex Rider, and is kind of floating in-between.
One of the problems I had reading it was that it was so clearly written for a youth crowd. The story had some really cheap “gimmes” (like a reveal that is pulled out of a hat and hastily back-written to make it fit) that made me groan…but would make a 9-12 year-old gasp. I’m not the best judge of books for this age group, and not because I’m soooo much more sophisticated, but yes, actually, I am more sophisticated than a 9 year-old. Also, I care about things like “plot coherency” and pacing more than a 9 year-old would, but these aren’t criticisms of the book, because I’m so far out of the target audience. In the same way that I can’t complain about how Bollywood movies are all in Hindi, I can’t complain that a book for people less than half my age isn’t quite as sophisticated as I would like.
Do I recommend this book? If you have a young kid that wants to read a fantasy series and hasn’t already read The Ranger’s Apprentice, then certainly. Of course, in that case, you should just give them the Ranger’s Apprentice. Is it good? Yes, but there are better.
Second, I feel the need to tell you stories from my life and my store. If you happen to give a damn about books for teens, you might know that The City of Lost Souls, the fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, is coming out soon.
If you are like 99% of the rest of the world, you do not care.
That said, my store is among the 1% who do care, and they decided to begin a marketing campaign of…interesting proportions. Namely, that they would get people who work in the Kid’s section to walk around wearing t-shirts advertising the impending release of said book. It’s, uh, exciting?
Oh, you don’t know what I mean? Well, take a look.
In other news, I think it’s finally time I put an actual picture of myself on the blog. So, in what is a belated present to this blog, you get what is not only the best picture of me ever taken, it also shows my new idea for how to market that t-shirt.
If my store was staffed by ninjas, you can bet your ass we’d get a tonne more traffic. Yes, we’d get a few more impromptu kung-fu battles, but you say that like it’s a bad thing.
Third, and this is kind of weird so bear with me, is that I have a request to make. I’ve been writing for some time now, and I’m pleased with my progress so far. It is, however, time to take the next step. No matter how much I improve in isolation, I need to branch out. I need feedback. I crave it. As much as I need caffeine in the morning, I need other eyes to dissect, chew, and tear into my work.
So, if you are a writer (or want to be one), or if you know any writers who are also looking for a group, you should send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk. I’m just using this as a platform to advertise, nothing that’s going to be discussed will be put up here, unless it’s ok with all involved.
Fourth, Stan Rogers!