Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: Good the Goblin Queen, by Becket

When it comes to whimsy, there are limits. A little bit of whimsy can be a lot of fun, but too much can be exhausting. Becket, in Good the Goblin Queen, takes whimsy way too far. The story plays out like Dr. Seuss on steroids, with made up words and invented rhymes, all which play no role but to add to the endless whimsy. While the story has a fun concept - a girl who wishes to be queen is transformed into a goblin so she can be queen of the goblins - the author takes a heavy-handed approach to its humor by whacking the reader upside the head with the countless whimsical inventions - as many as can be fit into a single sentence, page, and book. While some children may find it amusing, the length of the book may put this out of reach of those who would likely enjoy it, and older audiences will grow bored with the lack of grounding and structure.

To begin the whimsy, a human girl named Good is adopted by a pair of orangutans. She is not happy with herself or her family. Her parents behave just like orangutans. They party all the time and rip up her books so she has to bury them in the backyard to keep them safe. Oh, and there's the bananas. That's the sole diet of Good's orangutan family. Clever? Somehow her father is elected President of the United States, and here's where things seem to take on a form of allegory. Does the orangutan president represent any one particular president? Since this book was written in 2015, could that president be President Obama? Could there be a poorer choice of comparison to a black president? Perhaps Becket is simply being whimsical, but part of me doubts it. I think he was just using poor taste.

Good happens to see a whole bunch of shooting stars one night and wishes upon them that she could be queen. Wishing on stars is apparently illegal, so when the secret service alerts the president that somebody wished on what was likely over one hundred stars, Good runs away. She runs into a ghost named Mr. Fuddlebee, who gives her a device called a Crinomatic that will make her wish come true. It does just that, but transforms her into a goblin, but before she can reverse it, the Crinomatic breaks. A group of seven goblins approaches her and recognizes her as the goblin queen. They then vow to take her back to the Goblin Kingdom.

The rest of the story is a series of adventures with the goal of reaching the Goblin Kingdom. The characters run into such conflicts as Nightmare Hollow, a giant, gremlins, and Old Queen Crinkle, queen of the vampires. These conflicts are largely resolved by Mr. Fuddlebee as a deus ex machina figure, or by the fact that the villains give the heroes endless amounts of time to solve their dilemma, such as the giant who waits for the heroes to repair the Crinomatic that will save them before deciding to step on them. All of this is told with lots of energy and humor that would, as I said before, amuse a younger audience, but just doesn't work for teens or adults.

Becket's dialogue and his writing set a tone of Dr. Seuss whimsy. The goblins always confuse big words that Good uses, in a way that would be comical to young readers. Sometimes this is done inventively, and it does give the novel some charm. The need to rhyme so frequently grows tiresome, and suggests an inventiveness without purpose. For example: "There were biggle goblins and sniggle goblins. There were snuggle goblins and huggle goblins; snicker goblins and bicker goblins; nag goblins, lag goblins, and bag goblins." The use of such nonsense words seems to provide no purpose other than to show that the author was in an inventive mood and that he enjoyed making things up on the fly. And that's how large segments of this book felt - simply made up along the way rather than developed organically.

But this is a parable of sorts. Underneath all the whimsy there is an important message the author would like to impart, and that's why I feel like the comparison of an orangutan to Obama is on purpose. At the end of the story, Good is faced with a dilemma that she herself cannot conquer, but from a book she learns some wisdom: to ask for help from DIOS. DIOS is an acronym for Dimensionally Intelligent Operating System, and it exists everywhere. All Good has to do is ask for help. DIOS, if you know Spanish, also stands for God. The message the book wants to communicate is that all you have to do is ask for help from God, or some other Dimensionally Intelligent Operating System, and everything will work out in the end. If you already believe this is true, you don't need to read a whimsical book about a goblin queen to know it, and if you don't believe this is true, the book is simply a waste of time.

No comments:

Post a Comment