Toonopolis: Gemini (Toonopolis Files Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 316 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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|Age Level: 8 - 18|
|Grade Level: 5 - 12|
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Well, allow me to introduce Jeremy Rodden's "Toonopolis: Gemini" - the Scream of Saturday Morning Cartoons.
Our main character is a young man known only as Gemini and identified as an animated character who was once a real boy. He seeks to go through the various towns of Toonopolis to locate a Nothing-like villain named Shadowy Figure and also try to figure out who he really is.
Toonopolis: Gemini is a very Tolkien-esque journey as we see our hero and a trusty mentor / comedic relief sidekick going from town to town, encountering various animated heroes and villains and putting the spotlight on what Gemini can do in this world now that he is living by the cartoon rules. There's a particularly wonderful scene early in the book that features a character breaking down the rules, very much like Randy from Scream. That scene had me cracking up and fondly thinking back to the days when Wile E. Coyote was running past the edge of a cliff completely unaware that gravity was going to strike if he even dared to look down just once.
The book is tailor made to fit my style of humor, and the randomness of the characters brilliantly evokes Douglas Adams if he were force-fed Saturday morning cartoon culture. Make sure you pick this up ASAP, especially if you remember the days of sitting in front of the television with a bowl of cereal and throwing yourself into various magical lands.
My first impression of Toonopolis was that this isn't a YA novel. I've read a lot of YA novels, and the best of them put you in the head of...well...a young adult. Even when not written in the first person, when inside the head and emotions of a young adult, it has to feel right. Gemini, the main character here who is a young teen boy is not a modern, angst ridden, X-Box, angry, confused, lazy or even nerdy teen. Once I figured this out I was better, because Gemini is also a nostalgic view of a teenager. He finds himself inside a wild world with no idea (almost no idea) of who is or where he is. The world is crazy, with cartoon characters, Pez streets and moving buildings. He does not freak out. Instead, he asks a few questions, then dusts off his jeans and starts walking with a rather 1950s gumption. I was expecting a raging youth in a wild and whacky world. This is Opie in Looney Tunes. Caught me off guard, but once I saw it, I enjoyed it.
I also call this book nostalgic because these aren't the cartoons or heroes of present day. These are the cartoons and heroes your kids have probably never heard of unless you purposely exposed them to old cartoons and comics. Flipping around on the TV you won't find this stuff much anymore, at least not in this incarnation.
This sounds like a bad review but it isn't. I honestly enjoyed this book. Rodden obviously loves his old toons too, just like me, and he had to have fun writing this. I had fun reading it. He takes full advantage of his world to infuse magic, fun, fantasy, silliness and a cast of thousands (at least it seems like it!)
Woodruff's illustrations have been overlooked in these reviews. Her very clean style reminded me of Brett Helquist (A Series of Unfortunate Events) but with smoother lines and a style all her own. For future books, I would say give her a page and let her illustrate scenes in bookplates. A book about a cartoon world demands cartoons!!
So for me this book was a lot of fun. Rodden has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything cartoon, and that makes this more than just a book with a fun idea, it makes it art.
Cartoonists, artists, Saturday Morning TV graduates, and anyone who still stops to turn the squeaky carousel of comic books at the drugstore should read this book.
The characters are interesting. I liked how Gemini developed along the way in the story. I also really liked the reasoning behind why he did what he did. (I won't explain more it will spoil the story) The interactions between the characters were also fun. Quite a few of their dialogues had me laughing out loud.
I also liked the story. It was full of adventure and laughs. Yes there were some serious parts but overall the book never seemed to take itself too seriously. But is does take place in a land created for cartoons. Some of the puns were groan worthy in their corniness, but they still drew a smile. The way the author worked the cartoon aspect was fun to see too. All the different cartoon areas and how they exist etc.
The book ends with a few strings left untied. But nothing annoying, more in a "ooo maybe that will be answered in the next book sort of way". Overall the book was solid and funny. Definitely recommend it for mid-grade and up. Even for adults and young adults who don't take themselves too seriously.