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Peter & Max: A Fables Novel Hardcover – October 13, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 170 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Understanding Willingham's new novel (the first from comics house Vertigo) doesn't require knowledge of the comic it's based upon, but it certainly helps; Fables follows a population of fairy tale characters seeking shelter in our world after their enchanted lands were conquered. Familiar figures like Snow White, Rose Red, the Beast and Belle, the Big Bad Wolf (a human PI in the mundane world) and others fill out a cast led by Peter Piper and his brother, Max. Sibling rivalry, magical flutes and, yes, pickled peppers factor in the clever, adventurous plot that sees Peter pursuing Bo Peep. Fans will find all the charm and in-jokes of the Fables universe intact; like Neil Gaiman, another acclaimed comic book author, Willingham writes without the help of thought bubbles and keeps everything clear enough that readers new to the series won't be confused for long. Though it toys with notions of mythology and its origins, this work still keeps true to the spirit of the Brothers Grimm: dark, fast-paced, moving and entertaining, with a few surprises along the way. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–The Fables, a group of folk and fairytale characters, are living as a community in New York after being chased out of their previous lands by an evil conqueror. Some of their story has been told through a series of award-winning graphic novels, but Bill Willingham has written this tale as a novel (Vertigo, 2009) that can stand alone. An author's note introduces the audiobook, providing backstory to help those new to the series. The cast of characters includes many recognizable figures: Snow White, the (former) Big Bad Wolf, Rose Red, Peter Piper and his brother Max (The Pied Piper), Bo Peep who is married to Peter, and others. Through wonderful pacing, flashbacks, and clever references to the well-known tales of these characters' former lives, listeners are transported to a world where the storybook fables become real. Wil Wheaton does a wonderful job in timing the drama, humor, and tragedy of this complex tale, only missing the mark with the slow-paced delivery of Bigby Wolf's lines. Be aware that this is not a Disney-esque vision of the world. The characters curse when appropriate, the sex life of Peter and Bo is called into question, and violence is not sugar-coated. The intense conflict between Peter and Max harkens back to the gritty fairytales of old where blood is shed, evil exists, and things are not always as they seem.Genevieve Gallagher, Charlottesville High School, VA
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Fables
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo; First Edition edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401215734
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401215736
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,206,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Westfall on September 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a fan of Fables. Mr Willingham took one of the stupidest concepts ever and made it into a compelling world that I look forward to visiting every few months when a new graphic novel comes out. This book just proved that Willingham doesn't need the artists to make up for any weaknesses in his storytelling ability. Peter and Max follows the adventures of Peter and Max Piper, and their ultimate conflict. Bill does a wonderful job of incorporating all of the legends that reference Peter or Pipers in general, he'll pick a pepper, the pied piper will do what he was famous for etc... If you are a fan of the Fables series I cannot recommend this highly enough, if you are not this is as good a place to start as any, and might be a little less overwhelming as there aren't that many characters within this book. Also, there is less interaction between the Fables and modernity in this book, it pretty much reads as straight fantasy. Wonderful story that hooked me after about twenty pages, a great read and I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I haven't read comic books in over 20 years, and had never heard of the Fables comic line this novel is based upon. I also initially wondered why, with all the possible fairy tale characters out there, Willingham had chosen to focus his tale on the tongue-twistered Peter Piper. So, I was a bit skeptical when I first picked this up to read. But, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was relieved that I didn't need to have read the comic books to do so!

The story and characters, if not terribly complex, are entirely imaginative and entertaining. And, kept me turning the pages, even when I should have been sleeping. Willingham is somehow able to combine taking his characters plight seriously with a tongue-in-cheek, dry wit that pokes fun at the zany world he's created - which makes it all the more enjoyable.

While the main storyline is about Peter and his brother Max's rivalry, a whole cast of fairy tale characters make an appearance (Snow White, Red Rose, the Wicked Witch, Beauty & the Beast, Bo Peep, ....). The fun part is that now they're all living together in Fabletown in a modern New York, having joined together to escape an evil adversary.

The ending was a little predictable, but it did resolve as a fairy tale should. And, after finishing this quick-read, I felt indeed that I'd just read a good, imaginative fairy tale.

A Favorite Line: "Fable women tend to be 'the fairest in all the land', which loses much of it's cachet when you have hundreds of such beauties crowded into such a small neighborhood."

Bottom Line: A clever, fun fairy tale whether you read the comics it's based upon or not.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I started getting into the Fables world by playing the video games first, then went on to read the comic book volumes by the same author. Needless to say, they are all fantastic and quite well done - this book being no exception. If you want to avoid spoilers and stay in chronological order though, I'd say to read this book after Volume 9 of the comics for sure. It's not a huge problem, but it did take a bit out of the fun of not knowing what was going to happen. I didn't know when this took place when I first read it, and now know for sure it's after Volume 9. So just a heads up for those interested in not spoiling some plot lines of the comics. Otherwise, this was a great book, set in the same universe and quite well done. Highly recommended to fans of the series.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
...but a bit lacking in character development.

The story, of course, follows the youthful and current exploits of Peter and Max, two brother pipers of lore who are opposite sides of the same coin. Peter, the child prodigy and younger brother, is chosen to be heir to the family's magic flute... the fact of which (when coupled with several other major stressors) drives elder brother Max to psychopathic delusion where he first becomes a hero out for revenge on his usurper brother, then a monster who would become the Pied Piper of Hamelin (among other things). To round out the cast is Little Bo Peep, who lost her sheep to the Adversary's invasion (along with most of her family and fortunes), an old family friend of the Pipers and obvious destined love to young Peter.

The tale is firmly grounded in the Fables universe of author Willingham, with plenty of crossover. The "Peter and the Wolf" segment of course has pre-amnesty Bigby as the antagonist and Frau Totenkinder (also pre-amnesty) is the Black Forest Witch who gives Max his own enchanted flute. Unfortunately, one of the book's starting turnoffs is the cameo of Fables farm headmistress Rose Red (with her dragon/crow, as well) and Sherrif Beast who only bookend the story instead of following suit with similar old world connections like Bigby and Totenkinder.

Storywise, the novel suffers from a sort of pulpy comic book lack of characterization... particularly when it comes to Bo Peep. When we first see her, she's given a lovely bit of it, but as soon as the crisis is over and the audience is forced to follow Peter, we never hear from her again until many years of storytime later... and then she's just a goad to motivate Peter to restart his quest/escape the Adversary.
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