A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are, frankly, a plethora of great descriptive terms for this Vandermeer, and while it absolutely falls in the wonderful WEIRD category, I should mention that it is also charming as hell, adventuresome, original, quirky, quirky, and sometimes silly when it isn't a tentacular mess for every person in it, whether they're good, bad, or a celestial beast.
It's been a while since I was so utterly charmed by a YA adventure that was better for its clear-eyed oddities and slyly funny language bits over an otherwise smarmy family platitude or puppydog romance.
In this case, it's more like an Alice in Wonderland craziness with a heavy dose of Cthuhlu (or rather, Borne-like) Woah, that didn't just happen... did it? but firmly couched in an almost victorian adventure sensibility, complete with magic-heavy alternate time-worlds with absolutely delightful celestial beasts, Napoleon's Head, Crowley, and my favorite: Ruthless. And these are just the baddies.
Is it like normal YA adventures?
No. Or rather, it has a lot of their elements. But this one is purely VanderMeer, reveling in originality and quirky goodness and pretty much never letting up on it.
For me, I truly appreciate this. Too many YA are just regurgitations of familiar tiredness.
This is not that.
Actually, as I was reading it, I was saying to myself that this would be one of the very best YA Fantasy TV series ever. Bright and rich and quirky and endlessly diverting, never staying anywhere that long because there is always a new fire lick their heels.
I should mention that I couldn't stop laughing and grinning like a loon during some very special moments. One of them (or indeed several of them) happened to coincide with all references to a book club.
I'm right now trying to design my own. Do I hammer the books at the end of the club or not? But alas, I don't want to give away ALL the goodies. Indeed, it just keeps getting better and better and better. I would give ANYTHING to see a full production made of it. Think of a mix between Preacher and Good Omens with a much larger side of that cat from Captain Marvel and you might get an idea.
WEIRD IS GREAT. :)
Manage your expectations. Enjoy this for what it does really well. And for all you weirdos out there, grab this and hold on tight. :)
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