- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (April 3, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1419728717
- ISBN-13: 978-1419728716
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Munmun Hardcover – April 3, 2018
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—"Being littlepoor is notsogood," observes Warner, the rat-size narrator of this thought-provoking dystopian epic in which humans' physical size mirrors the amount of "munmun" (money) in their bank accounts. The protagonist, along with his sister Prayer and their friend Usher, set out across the semi-recognizable landscape of southern California with a scheme to earn enough munmun to "scale up" to at least middlepoor. The journey doesn't go as planned, and in the fallout, the companions endure alternate-world versions of the myriad indignities and outright dangers that poor and homeless teens face in today's America: condescension, manipulation, mind-numbing jobs, indifferent justice and health care systems, graphically depicted sexual abuse, and the middlerich attitude that the poor should be grateful for any crumbs they get. It's not subtle in the way that Gulliver's Travels, M.T. Anderson's Feed, and Scott Westerfeld's "Uglies" series aren't subtle; it's social commentary with a bite. This book also includes action and humor to leaven the mix. It evokes Patrick Ness's "Chaos Walking" trilogy in its stream-of-consciousness narration, full of invented words and spellings that reflect Warner's littlepoor illiteracy. This world has no clear racial or ethnic groups, but skin colors that include rubyred and gray; a shared dream space where people communicate; and the "scaling" process that changes people's sizes in tandem with their financial fortunes. Readers will race to reach the conclusion and Warner's appropriately Pyrrhic victory. VERDICT Endlessly discussable and a first purchase for public and high school libraries.—Beth Wright Redford, Richmond Elementary School, VT
"Warner’s distinctive voice and language compel readers to pay attention to this detailed world . . . Brilliant, savage, hilarious, a riveting journey through a harsh world that mirrors our own."
"In a brash and wildly inventive novel, Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) effectively uses a gonzo alternate reality to frame urgent issues that include income inequality, rampant consumerism, and class disparity. Warner may be small, but his giant heart and brutally honest narration propel this intense, cuttingly funny novel."
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By equating wealth with body size, Andrews masterfully recreates the wrenching gut feeling of being subject to the cruelty of poverty by imagining a world, dialect and all, where the experience of poverty acquires the full dimension of tangible reality. He places dispossessed Werner its narrator, right next (or under) wealth, creating an image of what otherwise is unimaginable…or too disturbing to accept. Jesse doesn’t approach the topic with the romantic piety of Dickens or the slapstick humor of Charles Chaplin. Nor does he conveniently relegate people with extreme body sizes to isolated and remote Gulliver islands like Swift. Squirrel-sized Warner describes his life in the fantastically uneven city of Lossy Indica through the daily tribulations that we recognize so well, except for the scale, refusing to resign to the unfairness his terrible condition. Not unlike Greg, when facing death in Andrew’s “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl”. Warner description of his life in the fantastically uneven city of Lossy Indica conveys the utter nonsense of our economic reality better than a million treatises.
MunMun’s scale is actually geometrically incorrect. If body size were actually proportional to wealth, the rich would be astronomically large and the have-nots about the size of viruses. But Jesse’s license is understandable: he needed to bring inequality to size so that his characters could fit the intricate world of irony, pain and humor that is so enjoyable in this amazingly imaginative metaphorical masterpiece.
Warner’s father was killed when a middle child was pushed into their house stomping on him. Then Warner’s mother was also injured leaving the family even more destitute. The trio come up with a plan though for Warner and his sister to make munmun and size up sending them on a quest across the city.
The first thing I’d mention with this one would be that there are sexual situations and adult content in here so it probably should be for more mature audiences. But with that being said it’s also a pretty wacky fantasy world including a lot of made up words and some pretty far out there action in the story. Readers definitely need to know the author is about as far away from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl that he is famous for before stepping into this crazy world.
I have to say I’m not a huge fan of made up words in stories, especially with an ARC copy that I stop and wonder if things are meant to be that way or am I reading through typos. I didn’t actually even realize the title is one of those words, munmun = money in the story. I think that for me was the one thing that kept me from really falling in love since the action was actually quite unique. There was always something going on to progress the story forward and a lot of it was really a creative take on our own upper, middle and lower class. In the end I found it all fast paced, fun and a unique read and would probably rate this one at 3.5 stars.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.