So, when I began this post I was experimenting with new ways to format my reviews. To sum up the entire process: Huge Fail. But, after all of that stress I got to write my review of Toonopolis by Jeremy Rodden. Then suddenly, all was right with the world again. Keep reading to find out more!
Gemini is a teenage human boy who is thrust into Toonopolis through his father’s scientific research program. He loses part of himself in the process and immediately begins a quest to regain his lost memories with the help of his Tooniverse guide named Jimbob the Talking Eggplant.
After an altercation with a mysterious Shadowy Figure, Gemini’s mission is changed, and he begins a new quest to defeat Shadowy Figure and protect Toonopolis from his nefarious destruction. Along the way, he meets new friends, discovers just how diverse and strange Toonopolis is, and learns lessons about compassion, forgiveness, redemption, and being true to oneself.
In all honesty, it took me a while to warm up to this book. While nothing grabbed me at the beginning, the story was well-written and the concept was so pleasantly different that I kept reading. As I read on the book became more engaging. I found myself laughing, raising my eyebrows, and sometimes squealing in surprise and excitement after the author used a familiar element from cartoons. Jeremy Rodden did a lovely job of bringing life to cartoons as we know them and it was very easy to tell that he knew his subject well.
Author’s Voice/ POV:
The majority of the book is written in the third person POV, however, there are some journal entry-type sections and these are written in the first person. The transitions from the main story, which was set in the Tooniverse, and the journal entire, which were set in the real world, were smooth and did not disrupt reading. This is due in part to the easy flow of the story as well as to the fact I found myself able to accept that the two worlds existed side-by-side or rather one-on-top-the-other and that it was only right that we should see the events occurring in both of them as they affected each other.
The majority of the characters that we come across in Toonopolis were relatively flat. However, they did represent the perfect example of many supporting characters in cartoons. Our protagonist, Gemini, was reasonably fleshed out but I found it hard to really relate to him. He wasn’t a very emotional character and I identify best with those types.
Jimbob, the talking eggplant, was the perfect example of a cartoon and I loved him from the beginning. His quirkiness and his corny jokes really spoke to me, however, it got to be a little too much by the end and I really felt that some of the other characters’ treatment of him was unnecessary and a little forced.
My strongest feelings about Toonopolis came from the concept. A human boy in a toon universe on a quest to save the cartoons as well as to discover the truth about himself. While the base plot something we’ve seen many times, the setting alone makes this book standout. Especially as it’s a setting that is so utterly familiar yet alien. Who didn’t watch cartoons when they were younger? Who didn’t laugh at the funny and unrealistic things our favourite cartoon characters did? What struck me most was how well the author knew his subject. He managed to voice opinions or bring attention to certain things that we all accept in cartoons but never really think about and he also created rules for them. His writing provides the oddest but most amusing example of world building that I have ever seen.
Okay, I have to mention this again but I really loved the concept. It was brilliant and the author did it justice. I also loved the short flashes back to reality. They provided that extra something that helped me to connect to the story. My biggest turn-off was comment made by one character about teenagers in general and somehow, I took it personally. It felt a little too judgmental especially when teenagers make up part of the book’s audience.
Overall, I’d give this story 3 out of 5 stars. While the concept was brilliant, the overall story didn’t grab and hold my attention as much as I would have liked.
What are your thoughts?
K, the Popinjay.
Disclaimer: This story was received from the author, Jeremy Rodden, in exchange for an honest review.