Maxidoodle and I *finally* finished The Search for Wondla! Yes, it took us months. But that honestly has nothing nothing nothing to do with the book itself, and says nothing nothing nothing about our enjoyment of it. (To be perfectly frank, much had to do with the fact that it was missing in action for about a month and a half due to disorganization in the whole moving, and moving again, process.)
So anyway. Truth be told, I bought this book (new, even!) because I adore Tony DiTerlizzi's art. Adore. His art was a lovely part of the wonderful experience Gray and I had reading The Spiderwick Chronicles series a few years back. And well, I figured that maybe Max and I could have that same kind of magical fun with The Search for Wondla. Of course, reading with Max is always a magical experience--can't quite explain it, but it is.
Total aside: I got a glimpse of how much Max enjoys our reads in the letter he wrote me at school for Mother's Day. It started out with "Thanks for not kicking me out of the house." Always the clown, this one. Went on to thank me for letting him buy toys sometimes, and a few other odds-n-ends. And then said, "Thank you for reading to me a lot. One of my favorite things in the world is listening to you read to me." Mommy heart melt.
Yes, back to Wondla. I will admit that for the first half of the book, I was not blown away by the story. I didn't dislike it, mind you, but I wasn't really hooked either. This is not to say I wasn't enjoying myself, however. I was--because Max was. He loved this book starting with page 1 and continuing right through page 466. I had sort of settled into the mindset that this was going to be one of those books that was going to be a delight simply for the fact of reading with Max.
And then the book went and surprised me! It went and made me fall in love. Here I was coasting along, thinking he was just telling a fun, interesting fantasy tale. Great world-building. Lovable characters, and some decidedly not-so-lovable ones. Adventure. And then WHAM! I stumbled into this story that was subtly making me think. What does it mean to be alive? What is really acceptable when it comes to how we treat species other than our own? What makes a family?
There was a chapter near the end that I could barely make it through--I cried the whole time. When Rich asked Max how Wondla was that night, Max answered, "Good. But sad. Mom cried *a lot*."
Yes, we bought the sequel, A Hero for Wondla. And we've started it. And as for me, I'm already deliciously intrigued, and already have much higher expectations than I did when I started the first one.
And now, Max has graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me...
Mom: Overall impression of the book?
Max: It was an awesome book!
Mom: What made it awesome? The characters?
Max: Well, that's one reason. I also liked the action and adventure.
Mom: Did you have a favorite character?
Mom: Okay, if someone hasn't read it, they don't know who Otto is, so maybe you could tell them about him. And btw, I love Otto, too.
Max: Otto is a water bear. On Orbana, water bears are giant armored beasts. They're very gentle though. They actually look sort of like super enormous roly polies.
Mom: And what part does Otto play in the story?
Max: He helps Eva Nine survive in her new life outside the sanctuary. (Eva Nine is the main character.) They have a really special relationship. Eva's the only one who can talk with Otto. They do it in their minds.
Mom: Did you find any parts of the book exciting or scary?
Max: When Eva was trying to get away from Besteel in the town. Besteel was mean. It was his job to be mean, but still...he could have chosen another job.
Mom: What was his job?
Max: To capture new specimens to be put into the museum for the queen.
Mom: Yeah, the part that really scared me is when Eva Nine was in the museum with the taxidermist.
Max: I thought that part was exciting.
Mom: *shudder* Okay, anything else you think people should know?
Max: Well, there's a sad part, but we shouldn't talk about it because it would give stuff away.
Mom: I already know the answer to this, but are you excited to read A Hero for Wondla?
Misc. Musing: I just finished up Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, and went to mark it read on my Library Thing library. (Very good book, btw.) I started flipping through the pages of my library. They're arranged 20 books to a page, and I have 80 pages. And I don't even have all my books catalogued yet. In the past year, we as a family have weeded out over 50 boxes of books to give away. Not 50 books, but 50 boxes! And yet I still have 80 pages worth on my Library Thing. But what really struck me was how small the percentage was of books I'd actually read. Pathetic, really. Some pages had not a single read book on them. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. Do I really need to accumulate books at this pace? Most books we buy are used. But still. I mean it would be one thing if I got them read, but apparently I don't. :( In general, I really do think I've gotten better about this...but I obviously have not come far enough...
It used to be, in the days before I started reading book blogs, that if I started a book I had to finish it. Just one of those obsessive little quirks. But among the myriad of amazing gifts I've received from reading book blogs, was the gift of learning to say, "No, I don't have to finish you. You're just not what I need, at least right now, so I'm setting you aside." (This happened because book bloggers introduced me to literally whole new worlds of reading. The finiteness of my life seemed ever clearer, and the thought of spending my limited reading time on books that weren't "doing it" for me seemed a bit silly.)
Ahhh...but now I've hit an exception that has sent me reeling into that "Holy crap, what have I done?!!!" vortex. Oh my, but how my brain is now berating me...
...all because Code Name Verity went and stole my heart. Seriously, you've no idea how close I came to setting that book aside for good. Actually I did set the book aside, but just for a couple of weeks. I was literally past page 100 and just was. not. feeling. it. So yeah, I've no clue what made me pick it back up and push on. Well, I probably do really--Ana's love for this book.
*sigh* Oh how I fell in love. This book. This book. This book. The straight-forward is never straight-forward. And the truth is the truth in many forms. Layers and complexities. Choices and lack thereof. Courage beyond my ability to truly grasp it. And love.
So yeah. Now I'm back to questioning whether it's ever wise to set aside a book just because it's not grabbed me by the nose hairs in it's first few chapters. Obviously some of the best stories just don't work that way...
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Trish's Standalong, now wouldn't I? The goal was to be about at the halfway point now. In fact, Trish has posted a halfway there meme. Unfortunately, I don't think I can answer. I know too much. :P
Anyway, my darling husband and I are reading this aloud together, and we're quite a bit behind--not even quite to page 300. We should catch up a bit this coming weekend with about 6 hours to spend in the car (a good time for me to read to us). But it doesn't really matter all that much, as between us we've already read it at least 10 times.
It's silly of me, I know, but I have to admit that I feel a big sense of relief that no one (at least that my sheltered eyes have seen) is despising the book. Yes, it's probably a tad idiotic to be so invested in these characters. But I am. I admit right up front that I cannot be objective about this book. It was the first "adult" book that I ever fell head over heels in love with, back when I read it age 14 or 15. I can credit it with reigniting a passion for reading that had waned a bit in my later middle school years. (Of course, I will possibly someday also be able to credit it for the skin cancer I'm likely to get thanks to all those hours spent engrossed in its pages while I repeatedly burned myself to the point of blistering.) The Stand is the book that I've read more than any other in my life. And likely will always hold that title.
Project progress for books mentioned:
~Eyes On the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 by Juan Williams:
Unofficial-for-me Reading Challenges--Non-fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge and Read Your Name Challenge
50x50--#41. Read 50 non-fiction books, each about a different country (U.S.)
-Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein:
Unofficial-for-me Reading Challenges--Historical Fiction Reading Challenge