[WARNING: This review does not contain spoilers for This Book Is Not Good For You, but it may inadvertently spill the beans about plot elements from its two predecessors. My advice, as always, is to read the books in order. You wouldn't want to miss anything important :) ]
I have a bone to pick with Pseudonymous Bosch, the mysterious author of The Name of This Book Is A Secret and If You're Reading This, It's Too Late. See, he says he doesn't want us to read his books. He warns readers away with cautionary titles and cryptic blog warnings about imposters and nefarious schemes now afoot. This is all well and good (after all, he does tell a dangerous story, which, for our own safety, we really should ignore), but then P.B. goes and does the unthinkable: He writes a story about chocolate. Sweet, creamy, delcious chocolate. As if anyone could resist an entire book about this delectable confection. To make the matter even more distressing, he titled his newest This Book Is Not Good For You. Everyone knows that nothing makes a thing more alluring than knowing it's not good for us. Suspicious, no? What do you think it all means? I have a theory: I think P.B. actually wants us to read his books. You're gasping. I know, it's unbelievable. But true nonetheless. The question is: Why would he want innocent people to read about that evilest of organizations - the Midnight Sun - if he didn't have ulterior motives? Are his "warnings" some kind of perverse reverse logic? Is describing the group's foul ways his sordid method of recruiting new acolytes? Curioser and curioser, wouldn't you say? I'll let you be the judge ...
When This Book Is Not Good For You opens, our young heroine is researching. As a survivalist, Cass has looked up many questions - How do you survive an encounter with a bear? How does one accurately identify toxic waste, just in case it should be lurking in the schoolyard? What tactics are most useful for obliterating the murderous mold growing under your sink? That sort of thing. But this question is altogether different. This time, she wants to know who she really is. She now knows she's adopted, but she doesn't have any of the details. And she really, really needs the details. So, she's searching her grandfathers' junk shop for the crate in which she arrived as a baby on their doorstep. She's certain it holds clues to her true origin. Although Cass' best friend, Max-Ernest, believes the search to be hopeless, he agrees to help her look. So it is that the two of them are in the shop when a box of magazines lands with a thump on its doorstep. A glance inside reveals a clue of another sort, one that points to where leaders of the Midnight Sun may be hiding. Before they know it, Cass, Max-Ernest and their friend, Yo-Yoji, are swept up in another whirlwind adventure courtesy of their membership in the Terces Society.
The escapade begins with an ancient object: a tuning fork that can create the most extraordinary tastes out of the most ordinary of foods. Why the Midnight Sun wants the fork remains a mystery. The lengths to which they'll go to find it does not: the heartless Sunners kidnap Cass' mother. Desperate to rescue Melanie, Cass and her friends set out in search of their enemies' new hideout, where they hope to find not only Cass' mom, but the tuning fork, and some way to take down the foul organization. The Midnight Sun, however, has its own motivation: it will stop at nothing to get the precious Secret. And when I say nothing, I mean, nothing. No one is safe from Ms. Mauvais and her gang, not Melanie, not the trio of kids, not the world. It's another wild, exciting adventure for our favorite survivalist and her friends. Will they live to see another?
With his usual zany humor, Pseudonymous Bosch continues his adventure series in high style. The books are witty, engaging and downright contagious. This Book Is Not Good For You is no exception. While it's not my favorite in the series, it's still an awful lot of fun (Oops, P.B. doesn't like it when I use that word - let's pretend I said dangerous). Seriously, though, this book is good, clean, lighthearted fun. I highly recommend the whole series (although I really shouldn't, because it's dangerous, remember?).
*Not surprisingly, P.B. has issued a rebuttal to my accusations - you can read it here. Just don't believe it. *
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for moments of danger that might be scary for younger children.
To the FTC, with love: Another gem from my local library. With the amount of money I've paid them in fees this year, they should soon be adding a new wing in my honor.