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Book Review – Magnus Opum

Magnus Opum – A Wonderfully Creative Suess-Esque Fantasy

Rating: 5 of 5
Author: Jonathan Gould
Format: Kindle

Like his fellow Kertoobis, Magnus Mandalora enjoyed the consistency and comfort that life provided in their wonderfully stable land of Lower Kertoob.  That is until his brother Jangos developed the Grompets and did something a Kertoobi rarely did – leave Lower Kertoob. Why anyone would leave was beyond all of them, what more could one want that to plant, grow, harvest, bake and sell Pflugberrys in Pflugberry pie?  Such a scandal was Jangos departure that Magnus could hardly concentrate.  Then the unthinkable happens.  News reached lower Kertoob that Jangos had been attacked and killed by the hated Glurgs.  Needing to avenge his brother’s death, Magnus decides he too must leave Lower Kertoob and find his destiny.

Jonathan Gould is a master at “Adult Fables” as demonstrated in his novellas – Flidderbugs and Doodling.  Turning his talents to a full length novel – Magnus Opum – Gould creates an even richer world and experience than possible in a novella.  In the opening chapters, Gould’s turn of phrase and creative names for places (Lower Kertoob), characters (Magnus, Jangos), and races (Doosies, Glurgs) are Suess-esque and immediately give the sense of joy and wonder of life as the Kertoobis experience it by connecting readers with their childhood Suess experiences.  But this is not a simple children’s book as Magnus and readers soon learn.  Gould slowly exposes Magnus to a world forged of prejudice forged by generations of misunderstanding and hate to which Magnus is not immune.

As with all of Gould’s works, one cannot help but reflect and spend time questioning ones own mores and decide whether or not to be courageous and face them, as Magnus did, or live life in our own version of simple Lower Kertoob.

Note: A complementary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Flidderbugs

Flidderbugs – A Compelling Political Fable

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Author: Jonathan Gould
Format: Kindle

Making his way to Fleedenhall through the densely packed leaves on his side of the tree, Kriffle mentally prepares for the upcoming debate with Fargeeta – daughter of the leader of the Quadrigons.  For years, his own tribe – the Triplifers – have been at the mercy of the Quadrigons rule and their complete control of the Shears.  Without the coveted Shears, Kriffle’s side of the tree has overgrown making it barely livable and almost impassable.  Life has truly been challenging but Kriffle knows he has the truth on his side.  In fact, all around him the proof stares him in the face – leafs on the Krephiloff tree all have three points on them.  How the Quadrigons have convinced their followers that the leafs have four points is beyond him but it does not matter. The truth is clear.  Unfortunately, what Kriffle doesn’t yet realize yet is that there are many truths.

Just as he did in “Doodling”, Jonathan Gould once more demonstrates his expert command at creating adult fables.  In Flidderbugs, simple insects living their simple lives drive home universal messages regarding our daily political reality.  So convinced are both Flidderbug parties to their own truths, neither takes even a moment to consider the other side may have a valid perspective.  Afterall, one need only count the points on a leaf and know the answer or is the issue more complex?  Some tribe members don’t even bother to look at the leafs anymore and just take direction from their tribe’s leaders echoing whatever it is that they are told.  As a result, control of all of their futures lie with those who live on the borders willing to be swayed one way or another depending on who has the evidence and the best argument.  Ironically, these polarized positions have the unintended result of threatening the very lives of all Flidderbugs.

Gould is truly a master in this genre.  While directly applicable to politics, the messages here are also applicable to everyday personal interactions particularly with those who one may not see eye to eye with.  The key is not assuming the other person has ill or negative intent; that there may in fact be another truth.  As a further bonus, this book reads well for all ages making it truly enjoyable for everyone.

At $0.99 on Kindle, Flidderbugs should not be missed!

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Doodling

Doodling – A Modern Day Parable

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author: Jonathan Gould
Format: Kindle

Struggling to keep up with the ever increasing pace of the world, Neville Lansdowne eventually gives in, lets go, and the world literally leaves him behind to fend for himself.  At first, Neville doesn’t know what to do; Earth is all he has ever known though lately it was hard to enjoy as it moved so fast around him.  But Neville soon realizes his not the only one to have been thrown off.  Others have left before him and they populate the universe on various asteroids and planets trying to make the best of life after the world has left them.  As Earth continues increasing its pace, it threatens to destroy itself and all who have left.  Can Neville and the others save their old world and themselves?

Jonathan Gould’s Doodling is a modern day parable exploring what happens when one lives to work instead of works to live.  In tongue and cheek fashion, Gould exposes Lansdowne to the outrageous characters in the universe that if he is not too careful, he could quickly become.  There are the “toaster” people who illustrate how crazy our lives can be when consumption of “things” become religion.  Then there is the aimless asteroid where it is impossible to know where one is going because there is no destination.  Finally, there is an intriguing look at what happens when responsibility and self sacrifice can become self destructive.

Doodling is an entertaining, light, yet deep novel.  After first reading, it seems like just a quick fun romp through Gould’s imagination, but upon reflection layers of messages reveal themselves.  I can’t pigeon hole Doodling into one genre but to me it felt like an adult version of the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  Currently, $0.99 on Kindle it is well worth a read.