Sunday, February 12, 2017

"An Author's Odyssey" by Chris Colfer

Published by Little, Brown
Released on July 12, 2016

The Masked Man and a handful of classic literary villains, along with their armies, have pretty much taken over the Land of Stories, and it's up to Alex and Conner Bailey to recruit their own literary army to defeat them.  Using the Portal Potion, they travel into Conner's childhood short stories and return to the Otherworld with characters such as pirates, cyborgs, and mummies.
In the fairy tale world, the other villains have turned on the Masked Man, but he is still causing trouble.  When he discovers the son he's never met, who was kidnapped by a group of witches, he devises another evil plan to gain the power he lusts for.  At the same time, a certain witch named Morina has just as sinister plans for Alex Bailey.

INGREDIENTS: the Dolly Llama, a Blissworm, the zombie of Bo Peep, and a magic talisman.

MAIN CHARACTER:  Chris Colfer has written all of the books in this series using an omniscient point of view.  All is in third person, and he alternates between placing us inside the heads of Conner, Alex, and a few others like Bree Campbell, the twins' mom, and the Masked Man.  Since these are his short stories, though, the main character of An Author's Odyssey is definitely Conner.  Despite acting younger than his age (fifteen, which is a little old for being the main character in a childish but cute read like this, if you ask me), I thought he was funny and brave.  Alex, however, has to be my favorite.  Her magic powers are cool, and she actually acts fifteen.  I guess that makes sense, though ;)

THEMES:  Colfer encourages other writers using Alex's encouragement to Conner.  As a writer myself, I could relate to a lot of his thoughts as he journeyed into each one of his stories and discovered things about himself that he didn't know before, or even knew he'd included between the lines.  This reminded me that I express myself through my writing unconsciously more often than consciously, which makes it special and uniquely mine no matter what I think of it.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:  The writing style was really simple, and out of all The Land of Stories books, this one is by far the most childish.  The thing is, some elements of it seem geared toward an older audience, making it almost a mix of younger middle grade and older middle grade.  Kind of annoying.

WHAT I LOVED:  This may seem to contradict what I said above, but I liked the childishness.  Sometimes, especially after reading an exceptionally deep YA novel, it's a relief to get back to something simple and innocent like The Land of Stories.  Also, the worlds of Conner's short stories are really creative and fun, and it was different (in a good way) to switch between more than one genre in one book.  Pirate adventure, then sci-fi, then superhero adventure, then Egyptian mythology.  I like Beyond the Kingdoms better, in terms of creativity, but Colfer hasn't disappointed with this latest installment.  And that cliffhanger...

RECOMMENDED:  For anyone who likes...
                                 1) a silly, little-kiddish read.  You know, every once in a while.
                                 2) the omnisicient POV
                                 3) when two characters who are pretty much exact opposites of one another have to work together

"You're a brave little hero, I'll give you that," the Snake Lord said.  "But there's a thin line between bravery and stupidity -- and I'm afraid you just crossed it."
"And there's a thin line between bad breath and halitosis," Bolt said.  "I'm afraid you crossed that a while ago." ~ from Conner's superhero story, The Ziblings.

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