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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Another excellent, funny, young adult fantasy novel from Jasper Fforde!

Fforde, Jasper (2014)  The Eye of Zoltar.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Opening lines;  "The first thing we had to do was to catch the Tralfamosaur.  The obvious question, other than 'What's a Trafalmosaur?' was 'Why us?'"

I have never read a Jasper Fforde book that didn't cause me to laugh, smile, care deeply for the character, laugh, and go running to friends to recommend that they read it.  The cheezily named Eye of Zoltan is no exception. 

Jennifer Strange, 16-year-old orphan indentured servant manager of Kazam Mystical Arts, has been tasked by the King of Snodd to seek the mystical Eye of Zoltan in the terrifyingly unsafe Cambrian Kingdom (where they do a brisk business in fatality tourism) and to take his recently body-switched daughter with her.  Along with her companions (including a dragon who has been recently transformed into rubber, a wizard who wants to date her, and a fearless travel guide) all Jennifer has to do is find the Eye of Zoltan, defeat the invisible army, avoid countless dangers, return the princess intact, negotiate for the release of her friend, expose the evil corporation, and return home.  Along the way we get to see a civil war between two competing railroads, the princess use her financial acumen to talk her way out of certain death, super-fast messenger snails, and much much more.  It is a wry, thoughtful, and utterly enjoyable book.

Exceptionally bright sixth graders could like this book, but it is more on a high school reading level. There is nothing really objectionable here except maybe references to magic -- but only for the most sensitive -- no potions or sacrifices, this is more like say-the-magic-word kind of magic.  I recommend this (and the earlier books in the series -- The Last Dragonslayer and The Song of the Quarkbeast) with great enthusiasm.

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