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Mister Monday

Monday, April 9, 2007

Mister Monday (2003) Garth Nix

Mister Monday

I absolutely loved Sabriel. The following two books were also excellent, but I just adored Sabriel. I also liked his collection of short stories, Across the Wall. So when I saw he had another series, The Keys to the Kingdom, I… hesitated.

Sometimes when an author has written a book (or series) that I love, I’m afraid to read another book (or series) for fear it won’t be as good, and then I’ll be crushed. Although this has happened before (Piers Anthony–I’m looking at you) it doesn’t happen that often, so it’s a somewhat ridiculous fear. Yet, I still hesitated to buy Mister Monday, and after I bought it, I hesitated to read it.

However, once I started reading it, I plowed right through and read it in two sittings (Okay, it’s a young adult book, and I can usually rip through those in no time, but I had important things to do. Like sleep and go to work.) No more hesitations.

Arthur Penhaligon (which I continually misread as Arthur Pendragon) has asthma. Serious asthma of the kind that can kill you. And in fact it was supposed to kill him, yet that death is postponed when a strange man offers him a key shaped like a the minute hand of a clock. His acceptance of this key not only saves and changes his life, but affects the lives of everyone around him, as a strange new plague suddenly strikes the city–a direct result of his taking possession of the key.

Arthur is having a rough time of it. He’s sick. He’s the new kid in school. And he missed the first week of classes at his new school because he was sick. What I found interesting is that he ends up almost dying not because he was foolish or stupid, but because he believes that he has to obey his teacher–even if he’s pretty sure trying to run is going to be really bad for him. It’s very a interesting idea–we want children to be obedient to the adults around them, yet those adults don’t always listen or pay attention. Which puts kids in an awkward position.

And Arthur ends up in several awkward positions, where the authority figures around him are giving him contradictory advice and commands. The Will is particularly bad about that–the Will places its own interests first, and sees Arthur (and then Suzy) as a means to an ends, rather than as individuals with their own needs and concerns. (Not that this didn’t make sense, all things considered. But it was interesting.)

As with other Garth Nix stories, I was never quite sure where the story was going. Sure, I knew that Arthur would eventually achieve his goal, but I was never sure how he would do that, or what he might lose in the process. But mostly this was a good story that pulled me in immediately. I also found it interesting that this book, written for older kids, was in many ways more thought provoking than most of the adult fantasy I’ve read recently.

If you’ve read Sabriel, Mister Monday seemed to be written for a slightly younger age group (although not much younger. Maybe junior high?) but that shouldn’t stop someone who was older from picking up the book and enjoying the story. Especially someone much older who could care less what age group a good book is written for.
Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Kids, Paper
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