At 700 pages, the book is sometimes repetitive (another impossible predicament, another narrow escape!) but the writing, seamlessly translated by John Brownjohn, remains lively and inventive right through the final heroic battle between good and evil.
The New York Times
Part science fiction, part fairy tale, part myth, part epic, the book… constantly satirizes itself. Very amusing.
A yarn of drollery, deeper meaning, and sheer lunacy.
Nine-lived cats have nothing on the "bluebear," who, according to German author and illustrator Moers, has a whopping 27 lives. In this inventive, zany, fun-for-all ages odyssey (a bestseller in Europe), an intrepid "seagoing bear" offers his "demibiography." A foundling floating in a nutshell on the Zamonian Sea, the azure-furred Bluebear is rescued by Minipirates, impish nautical geniuses, who raise him and then, after he gets too big, abandon him to live out 13 lifetimes of adventure populated by a dizzying array of eccentric characters. Among them, two argumentative waves known as the "Babbling Billows" teach Bluebear speech, sage dinosaur Mac (real name: Deus X. Machina) extends friendship and Professor Abdullah Nightingale at the Nocturnal Academy offers a particularly intense and wacky education. Even readers with short attention spans will find themselves captivated by the nonstop parade of madcap characters as treacherous predicaments resolve themselves with charming ease. Magnificent sugarstorms, tornadoes inhabited by old men and "dimensional hiatuses" propel the independent, indefatigable Bluebear to Atlantis, where he must demonstrate the relevance of his experiences in a psychological duel of sorts. Comparisons to Harry Potter aside, Moers's kaleidoscopic expedition is fanciful and endlessly entertaining. 136 b&w illus. Agent, Jane Kirby at Random House UK. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
German comic book artist, novelist, and screenwriter Moers is most famous in his native country for his satirical comic strip, "The Little Asshole," but he makes his U.S. debut with this novel, a cult favorite in Europe and Britain. Set in the fantastical world of Zamonia, the book is divided into 13 and a half chapters, each culminating in Captain Bluebear's improbable escape from something (or someone) horrible, including a carnivorous island, an eternal tornado, and a seductive ship. Moers's world is both refreshingly original and peppered with enough parody to make it seem eerily familiar. The author's favorite subjects for parody are sf and fantasy genre stereotypes; his most ingenious invention is the character Deus X. Machina, who cannot bear the idea of having to retire from rescuing people because of his failing eyesight. Moers's own illustrations helpfully and humorously illuminate the text, and Brownjohn's translation from the German is excellent. For fans of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy franchise, this is an essential read. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Jana Beck, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-This novel opens with the title character's first memory: as a cub floating in the ocean with a nutshell for a life raft, he heads straight for a giant whirlpool threatening to suck him down. After he's rescued by a boatload of Lilliputian pirates, Bluebear enters into a life (or 13 lifetimes) filled with humor and adventure. Each "life" has a different challenge to overcome, pitting him against the likes of headless giants and storytelling contests. The book is one part Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth and two parts Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Each adventure mixes fantasy, science fiction, and fables in a satirical cocktail that readers can't help but gulp down. The quirky writing is definitely strong enough to carry itself, but Moers includes several black-and-white illustrations that enhance the whimsy. With so many little side trips in Bluebear's narrative, the story might frustrate those who prefer straight-line plots. But this is the kind of tale that readers have to just sit back and enjoy, wherever it takes them. The ending does tie the loose threads together. A wild, fun-filled ride.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
“Marvellously fantastical.” – Sunday Express
“Part science fiction, part fairy tale, part myth, part epic, the book is a satire on all these genres... Very amusing.” – Daily Telegraph