The Book of Nonsense
by David Michael Slater
Product Description: The book is ancient, ravaged and full of utter nonsense. But the moment it enters Daphna and Dexter's lives, bizarre things begin to happen. Why is their father, who found the book, suddenly so distant? Is the old man who took it from him some kind of hypnotist? Why is a giant, red-eyed boy menacing them? And what does their thirteenth birthday have to do with all this? Daphna and Dexter can't stand each other, but they'll have to work together to learn the truth about the Book of Nonsense - before their lives come apart completely.
It’s hard to imagine this as an exciting childrens’ book. The majority of the action takes place in an antiquarian bookstore and an old folks’ home. Yet The Book of Nonsense seems to be doing quite well, with only 4 and 5 star ratings on Amazon.com and many positive comments on LibraryThing. So David Michael Slater must be doing something right.
Unfortunately, I didn’t dig this book at all. Daphna and Dexter are twin siblings, but they seem to be absolutely without that “twin connection.” I can absolutely understand that they don’t like each other – my brother and I fought constantly as kids – but they don’t seem to share any positive experiences from their past, and that’s strange. My brother and I were constantly at each others’ throats, but we also played together daily and shared interests. Daphna and Dexter share no interests and seem to have no compassion for each other. They could easily be two people who happen to be in the same class at school and just dislike each other. I mean, they don’t even join together to gang up on their father. They never act as a unit. That just seems so weird to me.
The story drags, too. The plot itself moves fairly quickly, but much of the book is spent inside the heads of Daphna and Dexter as they complain bitterly about how unjust the world is, or how angry they are at each other. Dexter will say something, and then Daphna will stew about how rude his words are before replying. So a scene that would only last a few sentences gets dragged out to a whole page.
On the plus side, it was nice to see Daphna volunteering to read at an old folks’ home. When was the last time I read a childrens’ book where a main character did something charitable? Old Man Rash, the villain, has the ability to take over the vision of another person. Essentially, he sees through their eyes. That’s such a gross superpower. But it’s also kinda cool.