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Posted October 19, 2012
A fairly standard way of reviewing a book is to compare it to others in its genre. I struggled to review Joonie and the Great Harbinger Stampede, in large part because it defies categorization.
Despite the adorable illustrations and the fact that the protagonist is a rabbit, it is NOT a child's book. The violence of animals killing each other is far too explicit and descriptive for a young child, though it is likely fine for a teenager. I would also NOT classify this as speculative fiction / fantasy either, in large part because there are too many elements that would make this a weak story within the genre. Deus ex machina is extensively employed. Many times, throughout the story, readers are expected to believe that something is 'just because.' Some examples: In the beginning of the story, how would a rabbit be nurtured by the sun and the moon...without actual food or water? Did the rabbit really not open its eyes for months? At the end of the story, how would carnivorous predators survive without actually consuming meat?
The novel shifts between a third-person point of view and an omniscient point of view, often within the same scene, frequently providing information that the protagonist of the scene could not possibly know. For example, when the prairie dog witnesses the rise of the Iam army from the ground, we are told the names of the army's various components--something the prairie dog could not have possibly known. Interesting elements are introduced, and then frustratingly, not elaborated or explained--such as the interactions between the various elements of the Iam which occasionally appeared to fight amongst themselves. The showdown between Joonie and the Overseer felt inconclusive. Did Joonie actually win the war? Would the Iam ever return? I couldn't tell--not even after re-reading the passage multiple times.
The novel is best classified per its description: myth and folklore. Within folklore, there is no need to explain everything, nor is it important for everything to make sense. The loose ends can be ignored, as can the lapses in logic. In general, the writing was strong, through the flow was occasionally choppy. For example, the chapter involving Zero, the prairie dog, flashes readers back to events several days old, before moving forward again. The result was jolting. The prologue was superfluous and had no relation that I could tell to the story itself.
The end result was a somewhat frustrating read that strove to do too much, and fell a little short. I realize that the author was striving to wrap a thoughtful allegory and philosophy into the story, but in the end, I think I would have been content with just a good story. If you can suspend critical thinking and a need for a plausibility in your fiction, you may enjoy this charming folktale.
Disclaimer: I received this book free through a LibraryThing giveaway.
Posted November 1, 2012
No text was provided for this review.