So. The town of Nollop (birthplace of and re-named after the great Nollop, creator of The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over The Lazy Dog, which sentence is be-tiled beneath his statue) goes into crisis mode when the ‘z’ falls off of the aforementioned sentence beneath aformentioned statue (in aformentioned town). The council is all, Obviously Nollop is trying to communicate with us from beyond the grave, and to tell us to stop using the letter ‘z’. To do so will result in surprisingly very serious punishment, even though this novel is mostly whimsy.
And you’re all, Ok, that’s sort of a dumb conclusion but this novel is mostly whimsy and so I actually have no problem with it and will roll with you on this. I am delighted to see where it goes. And then more tiles fall off and more letters are expunged and the letters (like, the kind you write to someone and put in the mail, not the kind you write those letters with that make up the alphabet and why do we not have two different words for this?) of which the novel is made up become increasingly (and pseudo-amusingly) strained as people try to communicate without, say, a ‘j’.
But it’s too much of a muchness. From the get, the characters sound like people trying to avoid using certain letters. I mean, ‘Such a perturbulent distraction it is to a community attempting to follow edict with obeisance!’ What? I know what all those words mean, I’m not a dolt, but the whole thing smacks of effort, man. And while I suspect this narrative style is, like cilantro, value-neutral, it is STRONGLY not to my taste.
And there’s a bit early on about how this island has raised the art of word-choosery to the level of an obsession, so it makes sense but is EXTREMELY GRATING that every speaking person uses words like ‘heavipendence.’ It’s like that precocious child-narrator from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is puppeteering this mess, thesaurus in hand. And when D drops off and people start (hilariously) using ‘portals’ and ‘fenesters’ for ‘doors’ and ‘windows,’ it’s scarcely noticable because they were probably doing that anyways.
And I’m willing to go with the letter-banning both due to the whimsy and because without it, there would be no plot, but suddenly the council starts snatching up land willy-nilly and appropriating property and you cannot go from A.) amusingly misguided to C.) greedy tyrant without giving me B.) something else kind of in the middle of those two things. It is bad for my back.
Despite all my thumbing the scale in this book’s disfavor, it’s actually kind of good. I just…it had the potential to be awesome. Expectations are my kryptonite.