Thursday, September 13, 2007

Marvelous ... or not

I just finished a book this weekend that featured the yin/yang, good/bad universes of the Ilone and the Enoli (sp?). Two alternative universes (time dimensions) to Earth -- one determined to subjugate the human race and take over Earth for ...? (didn't get that part) ... the other intervening to save humanity. Who was which: Ilone = bad/Enoli = good? I'm still not sure. And then there's our hero, Louis Proof, a young human (but also from one of those dimensions?), who must step in to stop the evil entities. It's all battles and superhuman feats from this point on.

This is the situation in (ah yes, another first in a series ... god help me, I want a freaking standalone title, is that too much to ask?) The Marvelous Effect, Book 1 of Marvelous World (which has something to do with E. Orange, NJ). Originally self-published by a young African American who wanted to see people from his world in a series like Harry Potter, the folks at Scholastic snapped it up for full-fledged publication (hoping for the Eragon effect, perhaps?), and then Listening Library grabbed it for audio.

So I'll say two things: the book is sorely in need of a good editor, and it's really appropriate for audio -- yet it isn't.

Troy CLE (that's pronounced Cee El Eee -- and stands for Celestial Light (like?) Entity -- of which there are many in the Marvelous World) just needed someone to say: You know, you don't have to put everything in your book -- adjectives and adverbs fly about indiscriminately and are often (in my opinion) used inappropriately.

Yet, he does write in a jivey, hiphoppy way that goes well with the streetwise, videogame tenor of the story. And Malcolm-Jamal Warner has a cheerful, innocent way of reading that also captured Louis' amazement at himself and his world. And, of course, he sounded like the urban black teens that populate this story. I certainly never would have made it through this book listening to the little white girl voice that's inside my head! But all the made-up stuff just got on my nerves -- the odd names (two characters named Prolif and Glitch, but always pronounced together -- prolifinglitch), the invented beings and machines. It's so hard to keep track of these things in audio, when you can't go back to doublecheck: Are the Ilone the good guys or the bad ones? The whole thing with Ilone/Enoli really didn't work in audio -- say them out loud to yourself: it was some time before I even realized that they were two different things.

Everyone's looking for the next Potter cash cow ... I don't think this is it.

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