Kogiopsis's Reviews > Mister Monday

Mister Monday by Garth Nix
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's review
Jun 10, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed, favorite-2011-reads
Read in June, 2011

It's Garth Nix. Was there ever a chance I wouldn't like it?

That said, I wouldn't have read this book - let alone bought it - if not for a glowing recommendation from the great and wonderful Cillian/BB. And so here's a big thank-you to her, because while my mind wasn't (quite) blown, I am glad not to have missed out on what seems a fantastic series.

My primary reservation about the Keys to the Kingdom series is its target age group - and yes, I know that's silly, because how could the man who wrote Sabriel ever create something puerile and immature? And rest assured, fellow readers, that he has not. While on the surface a simple (if rather bizarre) adventure story, Mister Monday has a great distinction in that it is the only book i have ever read where one of the things that compels me to read the sequels was the symbolism and allegories. But more on that later - and I promise not to write an AP Lit essay on the subject, even though it's definitely possible.

First, there's the hero, Arthur Penhaligon. Let me say that again: Arthur. PENHALIGON. PEN HAL IGON.
Now, quick, tell me which figure out of legend he probably resembles!
If you said "King Arthur", you'd be right.
Not that this is a bad thing. To the contrary - a well-executed twist on Arthurian legend can be great fun, and for me personally it's quite a draw. There's definitely an element of the legends in this Arthur's quest, though it remains to be seen how large an element it is; so far it's very interesting.
Outside of his name, Arthur is quite a good lead. Asthmatic and very much limited by hit, smart, shy, and courageous - what's not to like? One thing, actually, and that is: I never got a sense of Arthur's hobbies. What does he do when he's not in school or the House? Hopefully that question will be answered later in the series.

And then there's Suzy Blue, who Arthur meets inside the House. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll content myself by saying she's a typical Nix heroine, even if she's not in the spotlight - smart, capable, and determined. Give her time and she could stand proudly beside Sabriel.

The world of the House itself comes next, and boy, this must have been fun to write! The basic idea is that the House was created by the Architect to watch over the 'Secondary Realms' that She also created. (Yes, God is a girl; Garth Nix is awesome, or have I mentioned that already?) Inside the House, it seems, anything is possible. For a writer, that's surely like the best playground ever build. And boy, does Nix ever play - the world of the Lower House is a strange, wonderful, and sometimes scary hodgepodge of quasi-automatons, elevators that look like rays of light, traffic in sicknesses, windows into the age of the dinosaurs and more. From Mister Monday's antechamber, filled with the tents of those who've been waiting centuries to the audience, to the lightless depths of the Deep Coal Cellar where a being that may or may not be a reference to Satan is chained, the House has it all - and this is just the lower levels! I can't wait to see more of it in later books.

And that, of course, brings me to the symbolism. I admit, I got a little wary when the Old One - enemy of the Architect - was first mentioned. There was a part of me that worried it was going to become some trite moralizing story, with a big conflict between Good and Evil brewing, and that's kind of it but not quite. The Old One isn't really the Devil - he's more a combination between a primeval force of chaos and Prometheus, and he suffers. He also doesn't seem likely to be a major player later. If I'm right, the conflict is between Arthur and the Trustees who betrayed the Architect's trust, and so instead of being about Good and Evil it's about simple corruption and forgiveness. There are shades of gray, and they are marvelous.

Now, the Trustees. This is what really intrigues me. There are seven of them, named after days of the week. The first and least is Mister Monday, this book's villain. One of the characters identifies (rather self-righteously) his 'problem' as sloth. So... will all the other Trustees be defined by the Seven Deadly Sins? (view spoiler) Also, do Mondays suck because their caretaker is lax? It would be a good explanation, I think.

This book feels to me like a blend of the His Dark Materials Trilogy and the Pendragon series, and I quite enjoyed it. In fact, the day I finished it I went looking for the sequel in the bookstore of a small town I was passing through, and I would have bought it - but they had only one Nix Book (in the whole store!) and it was one I'd never heard of. For shame, for shame. I'll get Grim Tuesday somehow...

P.S.: The mention of virulent flu outbreaks in the past and Arthur's fear of losing those he loved to a plague made the atmosphere almost dystopian. I almost forgot to mention that.
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06/29 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Kogiopsis Well, it'll be a bit. Twilight will come first, and before that I have to finish at least one of the ones I'm reading now. But this summer, for sure. It's Nix, so I'm positive I'll enjoy it.

Kogiopsis Sealed in spit = best kind of pact.
No trolling except for the funny parody kind.
It's a deal.

Kogiopsis I agree. We should teach all the real trolls the way of the funny parody.

Nope, no takebacks. I wouldn't do that to you.

Kogiopsis D'aww! That's so cute!

And thank you. *bow* I try. You're pretty cool yourself, you know. :D

Kogiopsis Based solely on that comment, I can guess what you don't want to spoil and thank you for not saying anything outright.

Anyhow, YES. Though I should be thanking you for recommending it to me, seriously. It was awesome.

Interdimensionalbeing Wow! That is the best review I have read on Goodreads!

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