- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (August 12, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 038573543X
- ISBN-13: 978-0385735438
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,506,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Order of Odd-Fish Hardcover – August 12, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Thirteen-year-old Jo Larouche lives quietly in the California desert with her adoptive Aunt Lily, an eccentric former film star, and longs for something exciting to happen. She gets her wish and then some when Lily's annual costume party is crashed by an elderly Russian colonel ruled by his digestive system and a giant talking cockroach with a flair for the dramatic. Soon Jo and Lily are swept up by the Order of Odd-Fish, a group of knights devoted to researching useless information, and taken to the fantastical world of Eldritch City, where Jo learns the truth about her birth and destiny. This debut novel has many of the trappings of popular young adult fantasy titles, including an exotic setting, a dangerous villain, and a coming-of-age quest. However, Kennedy's clever plot, rich and fully realized setting, and often witty dialogue cannot compete with his dense, ridiculous prose (e.g., "He could not even think about the Belgian Prankster for too long before he would feel his soul dwindle and teeter on the precipice of being blasted to nothing by the sheer demonic grandeur of the Belgian Prankster."). Very few teen fantasy fans will be willing to wade through the text, no matter how likable the heroine and how fascinating the world of Eldritch City.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD
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The basic plot of Kennedy’s first novel is fairly standard fantasy fare—Jo, a 13-year-old girl who gets whisked off to a strange world, discovers that she is a child of destiny and must combat evil forces bent on the destruction of the world—but it’s so dizzyingly arrayed with Monty Python–inspired window dressing that one might not notice. Jo is a squire to an order of knights dedicated to “fiddling about” and studying such topics as “the philosophy of napkins.” Talking cockroach butlers, a Russian colonel who takes orders from his digestive tract, and a villain called the Belgian Prankster, who wants to either destroy the world or tell the worst joke in history, are just a few of the blatantly weird characters that veer the story into the ludicrous at nearly every turn. Some might find it difficult to sustain interest in such determined high jinks, but in small doses, this is quite hilarious, and readers with a finely tuned sense of the absurd are going to adore the Technicolor ride. Grades 7-12. --Ian Chipman
Top customer reviews
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The characters are endearing, and original in their own right. The Odd Fish are exactly what you think they would be, terribly odd. Odd in everything, in fact, including their topic of study, the way they talk to each other and dress, the house they live in, and even the servants are all giant cockroaches who act like pretentious British butlers. I recommend this to all readers 10+.
Lindsey Miller, [...].
The book opens on 13 year old Jo Larouche, once labeled a "dangerous baby" and left in the care of her Aunt Lily, a mysterious ex Hollywood actress and vaudevillian. Jo is spying on her aunt's Christmas costume party, avoiding a suspicious Russian colonel and vainly attempting to save her aunt from herself. Soon the Colonel is shot by a hedgehog who is subsequently knocked unconscious by a package falling from the sky and addressed to Jo, from the Order of Odd-fish. The situation only degrades from there as Jo, her Aunt Lily, the Colonel, and a self-obsessed, three-foot tall, talking cockroach flee from forces apparently obsessed with their destruction to Eldritch City, where Jo finds herself in the midst of a colorful cast of characters and at the center of an ancient plot and prophesy foretelling the end of the world.
With a world that is at once whimsical and familiar, wondrous and disturbing, beautifully yet sometimes gut-wrenchingly, horribly, and disgustingly detailed, this is one of those books that has something for everybody. It's filed in the young adult section and contains nothing inappropriate for young minds, yet still provides enough fodder that even the discriminating mature fan of fantasy will find it hard to put the book down. Truly a masterful first novel for author James Kennedy, and I am left eagerly anticipating his next book.
Reminiscent at times of Douglas Adams and at others Neil Gaiman, yet wholly original and with a depth of character and story that leaves the reader wishing fervently that the great god Aznath, Silver Kitten of Deceit, will spy our intrepid heroes from wherever he may perch, deign to pounce on their enemies, and save the day.
Though aimed at the Young adult reader, the vocabulary is very extensive and in no way "dumbed down" for the audience. If you get this for your child, expect a lot of "what does this word mean", type of questions. There are some words in there that might stump you too. The only shortcoming I found is that Kennedy tends to lay it on too thick. This is a 400+ page book that could easily be slimmed down to something in the mid 300's. I found my self skipping dialog and description at both the beginning and end of the book just so I could get into the plot more. It would have made a better read with less writing.
Having said that, it's still a great adventure and worth the time and effort. If you know a kid or even an adult with an odd view of the world, then this is a great book for them.
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