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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Name of This Book Is So Much Fun

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If you're still mourning the end of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events books, you might want to check out his literary twin - Pseudonymous Bosch. It took a little Internet sleuthing for me to believe they aren't actually the same person. I mean, c'mon, they write under fake names and tell their stories via anonymous, secretive, and overly-protective narrators. Both warn readers not to pick up their books, ensuring that they would, in fact, become bestsellers. Okay, okay, there aren't many similarities between their respective stories, but still ... twins, I tell ya.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself, although The Name of This Book Is Secret may not need much of an introduction. Most of you have already read it. For the two of you who haven't, it's the story of Cassandra (Cass), an 11-year-old "survivalist," who embraces the Boy Scout motto ("Be Prepared") with fervor. Although she's never experienced an actual disaster, she's always ready in case one should descend. And so it does, in the form of a mystery that comes knocking on her door. Not literally, but in the form of an odd box brought into her grandfathers' junk shop. Labeled "The Symphony of Smells," the box has been rescued from the home of a recently-deceased magician. Upon examination, Cass and her friend Max-Ernest discover a message which leads them to an even bigger discovery. It's a find that will attract the (very unwelcome) attention of a strange couple, who are intent on stealing it for themselves. Not only do Cass and Max-Ernest need to protect the magician's secret, but they also need to figure out exactly what the secret is - before it's too late.

This story is so fun and inventive that I don't want to give any of it away, thus the bare-bones plot description. I'll just say that it's quirky in a Lemony Snicket kind of way, but without all the doom and gloom. It's different, it's original, it's thoroughly enjoyable. Read it. Warning: You might want to hide it away until you're done, though - I'll guarantee your kids will be fighting you for it. Yep. It really is that good.

Oh, I almost forgot. Two quotes I love from the book:

"Generally speaking, books don't cause much harm. Except when you read them, that is. Then they cause all kinds of problems" (from the introduction).

"Only bad books have good endings.

If a book is any good, it's ending is always bad--because you don't want the book to end" (314).

Grade: A-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for some mildly scary scenes (may be too frightening for the under-8 set)


  1. *LOL* "Pseudonymous Bosch" -- I love it. :-)

  2. I've noticed this on the shelf at work but have yet to read it. I'll keep it in mind as one to recommend to Lemony Snicket readers.

  3. I really enjoyed this one too! I think there's a sequel out there, but I may be wrong.

  4. L.S. - Fun, huh?

    Charley - The tone/voice is very like a Snicket book, although the story is completely different. It's still got that quirky, zany feel, though not as kooky as A Series of Unfortunate Events.

    Amanda - There is a sequel, IF YOU'RE READING THIS, IT'S TOO LATE - I'm reading it right now :) According to Little Brown's website, there's a third book coming out in October. I'm looking forward to it!

  5. I was just teasing Harmony about this book today. She loves this book!

  6. Ok I haven't read it or even heard of it. This is all the stuff I guess I'll get to read when my kids become of age. :)

  7. Fun?! More like DANGEROUS! Thanks for the review, er, I mean, what were you thinking?! Secretly, PB
    p.s. Yes, there's a sequel called IF YOU'RE READING THIS IT'S TOO LATE. And now there's even a third book -- THIS BOOK IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU (and believe me it isn't!)

  8. P - Why were you teasing poor Harm? I LOVE this book, too. I was totally going to get her the second one, and just never got around to it. Sorry :(

    Julie - No need to wait until your kids get older - enjoy it NOW!

    P.D. - Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm honored that you would risk your personal safety (we all know how DANGEROUS your work is) to comment on my little ole blog. Thanks for the link, too - I should have known I wouldn't be able to find it using usual searching methods :)

  9. Sorry, I meant P.B. - just trying to help you keep your identity secret!

  10. I was teasing her because she told me something about it, like a line or a person. I said where did you hear it from and she said, "The Title of this Book is a Secret." So I just kept saying, "fine if you don't want to tell your Mom what book you are reading..." She's like MOM! STOP IT! Mean mom!

  11. Thanks to this fantastic blog, I picked this book up at the library and have been reading it to my 9 year old, who hasn't quite caught the "love" of reading for himself yet. We are almost done and LOVING every minute of it, even though every night when we finish, he says, "mom, this book is kinda creepy!" But we can't get enough, and I'm hoping that when we are done, and I grab the second one, he will read it on his own, just because he knows it's going to be great! Even my 12 year old daughter hears us reading, drops what she is doing, and comes into the room to listen! This will definately be a series that I end up buying for the home library!

  12. there are 2 sequels to it now if your reading tis its too late and this book is no good for you at barnes and noble i read them all and yes im 10


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