MUNMUN, by Jesse Andrews, Amulet Books/Abrams Books, Hachette Book Group

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In an alternate reality a lot like our world, every person’s physical size is directly proportional to their wealth. The poorest of the poor are the size of rats, and billionaires are the size of skyscrapers.

Warner and his sister Prayer are destitute—and tiny. Their size is not just demeaning, but dangerous: day and night they face mortal dangers that bigger richer people don’t ever have to think about, from being mauled by cats to their house getting stepped on. There are no cars or phones built small enough for them, or schools or hospitals, for that matter—there’s no point, when no one that little has any purchasing power, and when salaried doctors and teachers would never fit in buildings so small. Warner and Prayer know their only hope is to scale up, but how can two littlepoors survive in a world built against them?

A brilliant, warm, funny trip, unlike anything else out there, and a social novel for our time in the tradition of 1984 or Invisible Man. Inequality is made intensely visceral by an adventure and tragedy both hilarious and heartbreaking.

Out April 2018

 

MY THOUGHTS:

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

I’ve heard so much about this author and his work that I needed to get a copy of this book to review.  I’m glad I did.

Andrews has managed to create something that hasn’t been done before in the YA genre. If you can get past the syntax, acronyms that are spelled out, and a whole new style of grammar, then you’ve unlocked the door to the world of “Munmun.”

Although incredibly weird and even deemed odd by many, Andrews has created an amazing world that mirrors many of the social and economic struggles of our own world.  This is what makes his writing a well-written masterpiece!

I did struggle with Warner’s story being told in first-person, but that’s just me, I’m not partial to first-person narrative.  However, Andrews pulls this off without deflecting from the story pace.  I still remained engaged and eager to see what he’d written next.  The best advice I can offer someone considering reading this book: stay open-minded and receptive to a writing form you’ve not seen before.

Some may call it juvenile, others may call it a disaster– I call it BRILLIANT!

There are surprising gems of humor found when certain characters interact which I thought to be creative tools used by the author to keep the reader engaged when plot and pace slowed slightly. These moments ushered the reader forward and back in to the action and gave the character another chink in its arc development. Truly clever!

Fiction mirrors reality during some of the more brutal and awful moments in the book, and Andrews most certainly refuses to hold your hand through them, but the voice of the author and overall ‘feel’ does manage to soften the impact somewhat, allowing the reader to digest the information presented and move forward.  Another masterful technique used by the author to push the plot along.

The impact of the social and political bards are beneficial to the story in that they show a direct statement about what is often poo-poo’ed by society today.  Although done in a caricature fashion where the poor are tiny, overlooked and ignore, the rich are larger than life itself and achieve everything, you can’t help but see the irony in the author’s use of said imagery.

Satirical yet brilliant!  The author has taken how he sees the world and used this reflection to voice his own sardonic aptitude in a book delivering a loud message.  There are far more ‘minions’ than giants and if united… one has to wonder about the outcome.  Reminds me of the blockbuster children’s movie, “A Bug’s Life,” where a colony of ants were bullied in to gathering food for a nasty band of grasshoppers who were too lazy to gather their own (like the children’s nursery story too).  When the ants united and refused to allow the grasshoppers to continue bullying them, the grasshoppers didn’t stand a chance because they were out numbered, hence — united we stand??!! lol who knows.

This book is many things, some positive and some not so much, but it certainly doesn’t conform to what is considered ‘proper’ when writing fiction. Rather, it’s a dynamic, original breach of fiction normalcy worthy of becoming a classical paradox about a pariah in a fantastical world.

Because of the complexities of the main character, Andrews obviously realized he needed to keep the other characters ‘down.’ In other words, he needed to keep the developing arc of the main character the center of the story without adding distractions created by other arcs.  I believe this to be an ingenious structuring ploy, and  because of the writing complexities, it manages to keep the focus where it needs to be. I think if he created complex character arcs of the secondary characters, these arcs would take away  from the writing. The story-line continuously develops through the driving force of the main character’s growing arc, and in doing so, drives the story forward to it’s conclusion. I don’t think the story would work if done any other way. The developing character arc is almost a living entity of its own, and in effect, takes on the job usually reserved for secondary characters–that of pushing the MC along to achieving his plot goals.

Because the whole story is laced with satire, I think if anything, it’s here where the author fell short in achieving his goals.  At times, one could say the satire becomes too much or drags on, however, I didn’t really see this as a huge hindrance worthy of demoting the book.  I think what the author did achieve far surpasses any huge criticism anyone may have about satire and its use.

Lots of tongue-in-cheek references that could mirror today’s political ‘giants’ are seen here and there throughout the story, and I laughed out loud at how the author had fun with these particular satirical moments, shading the inferences enough to keep things funny and not turn the reader off or feel their own political views were being slighted or attacked.

“Kick em while he’s down” is definitely how Warner is treated, an interesting paradox that also reflects how many minorities are treated in our own society.  Andrews cleverly shows social viewpoints on caste systems that  make the ‘whole picture’ absolutely horrifying. His mirroring world is also governed and driven by the motto, that the amount of money you own decides your value to society.

Andrews driving wit, charm and clarity along with his classic method of storytelling oozes from the pages of Munmun, and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for all to read this book, or, you’ll miss out on something unique.

I gave this book:

5-star

 

 

 

 

 

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