Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dreaming Books Blog Tour

Welcome to Day Three of Book Sexy Review's 

Here at TNBBC, we have a phobia about reading books out of order. So even though this is a book tour celebrating The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books, we've decided to start at the beginning and review it's predecessor The City of Dreaming Books. While it's the first of the Dreaming Books series, it's actually the fourth in Walter Moer's Zamonia series... I know, I know, I'm still sort of confused about the whole thing too!

Before I get too far into things I wanted to fess up straight away. I am not a fan of bookish literature. While I love books and often wake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when I dream about life without them, I cannot stand reading books about books. I am not really sure why... maybe it has something to do with the fact that while I am reading, I do not want to read about someone else getting lost in a book? But that's just a wild guess. I've never been able to put my finger on it. As I am sure you can surmise from the title of the Dreaming Books series, well... they're obvious about books. An entire bookish city, in fact, complete with hidden libraries and odd, sometimes nightmarishly bookish creatures. And while I struggled to fall head over heels in love with Moer and Bookholm, I have come to realize that I am in the minority... who knew Moer had such insanely rabid fans!

Set in a world and time that doesn't really exist, the book is narrated by Optimus Yarnspinner, a clumsy, sheltered dinosaur who decides to leave the comfort of Lindworm Castle to track down the author of what he and his recently deceased Authorial Godfather deem to be the most incredible manuscript ever written.   (yes, in this world of Zamonia, books are highly revered and its inhabitants are raised by 'fairy author godfathers', if you will, who teach them to read and write and obsess over literature). I only mention the fact that Optimus is clumsy because he often makes reference to his size and less-than-elegant manner thoughout the book. In that way, quite early on, he began to remind me of Earl from that tragedy of a sitcom  in the early 90's Dinosaurs [please don't throw books at me!]. A dinosaur with too-large feet and a too-long tail that always seemed to get in his way. I had such a hard time bottling up the urge to shout "Not the Mama".

Even more than making fun of himself, Optimus seems to like to hear himself talk, and I often found myself losing patience with his side-stories... perhaps this is where his family inherited its last name? Easily distracting himself from the tale he sets out to tell us, our friendly narrator veers off topic throughout the entire novel, sharing incredibly long and detailed accounts of some of the most mundane things .. I admit to skimming through paragraph after paragraph of these one-sided philosophical ramblings. They appeared to add nothing of value to the storyline... only frustratingly adding to the overall page count. Oh dear, I fear I am doing that which I am complaining of right now. It's catching...!

Anyway, as I said, Optimus heads out to Bookholm (a book lovers wet-dream of a city where the streets are lined with bookstores of every type of literature imaginable) in the hopes of discovering this mysterious author and naively shares the manuscript with the wrong crowd. In no time, he gets himself poisoned -a victim of his own innocence and prey to a nefarious tyrant- and banished below the city in the underground catacombs. And here is where the story really starts....

In a dark and dangerous world where some books are hazardous to your health and others come to life to crawl around like bugs and snakes; where giant slug-like scientists terrorize the halls and cyclopic gnomes memorize entire libraries of their favorite authors; where all fear The Shadow King;  and where Book Hunters of all makes and models seek out the most valuable and demanded books in the world - and aren't afraid to kill you or one another in order  to wrap their furry or scaly fingers around them - I found myself worrying about Walter Moer's sanity. If you took ALL THE DRUGS IN THE WORLD, you still might not find yourself tripping as hard as he must have been when writing these stories.

The book comes complete with black and white drawings, included below, which lend the book a fairy tale feel, although it was obviously written with an adult audience in mind. There are famous author name anagrams sprinkled throughout (I suck at those things and only managed to decode ONE of them!), painfully cheesy made-up book titles, and mentions of spiders or spider-like creatures at almost every page turn...

So while I wasn't blown away by Bookholm and it's unorthodox inhabitants, I am glad that I chose to start at the beginning of the series. And while many of the people who've noticed that I was reading the book exclaimed how desperately they wished they lived in Bookholm, I've accepted the fact that fictional bookish worlds, those steeped heavily in fantasy elements or not, just aren't my cuppa tea. Even though it is obvious that Moer went to great lengths to build and develop this world of mystical, magical, and sinister creatures, I simply was not able to suspend my sense of belief far enough or long enough to lose myself in the ways in which Moer has intended.

And while I wish I had enjoyed the book more, I do thank Tara of Book Sexy Review for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour and for not shooting me through the chest with a poisoned arrow when I confessed that Walter Moer just isn't the man for me.

If you're tempted to learn more about Moer, the world of Zamonia, the city of Bookholm, and its underground labyrinth, please check out Day Four - Tara's leg of the tour - tomorrow....

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