Author: Robin Gregory
The Improbable Adventures Of Moojie Littleman should have been so much better than it actually was. I loved the sound of the book, the ideas were interesting, the beginning was solid, the cover was beautiful and I only found one typo in the entirety of the book. On top of all that I have good will in reserve for main characters who aren’t perfect, twenty somethings, criteria Moojie certainly fulfils. Yet I was left really unsatisfied by this read.
I think the first reason for this is the length of the book, it’s not necessarily a long book – but it is for the amount that actually happens in it. After the initial set up I didn’t feel any urgency in the narrative until the last fifth. Very little seems to happen in the space, there was a small episode with growing watermelons which I quite liked, but other than that Moojie spends his time pondering the first ‘Code’ of the clan of ‘Light Eaters’ he wants to join. However, what Moojie needed to do seemed pretty clear to me and there were many small episodes which seemed to either have no consequence or reiterated ideas that earlier small episodes had already covered, so took the narrative nowhere. I just think the book would greatly benefit from being about half the length it is, I found myself watch checking quite a lot while reading.
The second reason for my cold feeling to the work is the characters. The general writing of the book is good (even though, as discussed there is far too much of it) but I found the dialogue lacking, jumping between ideas quite wildly. I understood this for the Light Eaters, they are, after all, supposed to talk in riddles a lot, but it was the case even without them; people making statements, the other participant of the conversation talking – but not jumping off from the point just made. If the slightly off putting dialogue weren’t enough I didn’t find myself cheering Moojie much of the time, to be honest I didn’t even ‘get’ him for the first part of the book. You see I keep banging on about how long the book is for the content but maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if more words went on explaining how characters feel and fewer on description of the same fields again and again. I just didn’t empathize with or understand most of what he did. I went from confused to full on cold dislike midway through, when he starts acting on his crush on one of the Light Eaters; a girl we know nothing about other than that fact she’s just as good as the boys at hunting and incredibly hot. You see Moojie, despite her evident dislike of it, keeps touching her; stroking her hair, putting his hand on her arm. This is a bug bear of mine but she keeps shying away! Stop touching her! I’m having serious problems rooting for you as it is, don’t make yourself ‘that guy’ too!
Another reason for my lack of enthusiasm might be just lack of measures of laws in the world. Let me explain, near the beginning Moojie is found as a baby and it’s discussed he terrorizes the nuns that found him by making things fly around the room. Okay fair enough, sounds like a nuisance and an amusing anecdote. However soon after in the opening chapters a big argument about his abnormality happens because he cures a seagull’s broken wing. I felt confused, so is someone having magic not normal in the context of this world? What is normal in this context then? There were a lot of references to ‘the Americas’ and a pretty blatant reference to land being stolen, so are we actually in our own world – or not? But the end point is I didn’t feel shocked or surprised by anything that happened, because I had no context in which to ground my imagination – as far as I was concerned the strange goings on were pretty standard.
I can’t give it a bad rating, because it’s not a bad piece of work per say (although I do think a lot of language, especially with all the slang, would be challenging for the young readers this is meant to be for); I did think the climax was very well executed, and I liked that the undercurrent moral was an uncommon one of forgiveness. As I’ve said, the ideas were sound, everything presented just seemed so muddy and unnecessary. I can see the appeal – I think this is simply a case of a book just not being for me.